LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Downtown is getting an upgrade in 2021 worth an estimated $100 million of projects planned or under construction.
"Well, honestly, I thought the pandemic would slow things down a little bit but it hasn't," says Lafayette's Economic Development Director Dennis Carson.
The developments range from retail and residential projects, like NOVA Towers, The Ellsworth and The Luna, to public projects like the public safety building and parking garage.
The transformation will add hundreds of apartments and retail spaces, which Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski says were previously empty lots.
"It's a wonderful example of infill in a downtown using what literally were empty parking lots and turning them into beautiful living opportunities with commercial on the first floor," Roswarski says.
Carson says downtown could be unrecognizable next year as the community comes out of the pandemic.
"I think there's just a lot people that have a very strong interest in the downtown area ... they're going to be finished when we're coming out of this, so their timing is pretty good," he he says.
Architects are also developing a master plan of improvements to the now city-owned Lafayette Theater.
"A lot local talent and other people and organizations use the theater, and that will continue, but we also want to have the theater and have it available to bring in other acts and other performances and things of on a regional and national scale, as well," Carson says.
Developers are betting the overhaul will attract more people who want to live and work in the city's center.
And with a bump in population density, Roswarski hopes the city can make its case for a near-downtown grocery store.
"The number of developments within this window here," he says, "I am hoping that that can change those conversations."