Urban Core Featured Projects

As we’ve learned from our CivicCon Acadiana speakers like Quint Studer and James Lima, “investment follows talent, and talent follows place.” As the physical center of the region, the urban core is where talent will look first when evaluating the amenities our region has to offer and how we stack up against other areas. Acadiana’s urban core – including the areas around Downtown Lafayette and UL Lafayette – is experiencing renewal and growth. We must continue to build on this momentum in our urban core to create the vibrant type of place that will help us attract and retain the young talent that will fuel our future.

The following featured projects represent select opportunities to enhance the vibrancy of Acadiana’s urban core.

Parish Jail Redevelopment Area

The future relocation of the Lafayette Parish Jail will open up 4 acres of prime downtown property for development. If assembled with other adjacent parcels of public and private property, the site would cover 6 acres. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is recommending a predevelopment study and master plan for the site to maximize the opportunity.

Performing Arts Center Complex

First opened in 1960, the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette’s Oil Center has been a centerpiece of Acadiana’s arts scene for more than six decades. With the need for a more modern performing arts facility to be able to host the best shows and showcase our local talent, the stars are aligning for Lafayette to find a new location and build a new performing arts center to serve Acadiana into the future.

In early 2023, Lafayette Consolidated Government issued a request for proposals for land to build a replacement for the Heymann Performing Arts Center. UL Lafayette submitted the lone response, proposing a site on the corner of Cajundome Boulevard and Congress Street, across from Cajun Field. The State Legislature included $75 million for UL Lafayette for the Performing Arts Center Complex project in the state’s 2023 capital outlay budget. The total cost of the PAC complex is estimated to be $200 million.

Coburn’s Building Adaptive Reuse and Corridor Plan

The Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority (LPTFA) and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have initiated plans to redevelop the former Coburn’s Building, as well as the larger corridor in the northeast section of Downtown Lafayette extending from the Coburn’s Building to the Rosa Parks Transportation Center. The Coburn’s Building site is bounded by W Second St, W Grant St, W Third St, and W Cypress St. The larger corridor encompasses underutilized land that bridges the gap between Downtown and the proposed Evangeline Grand Boulevard along the Evangeline Thruway.

UL Lafayette & Downtown Lafayette Connectivity

According to Census data, in recent years the city of Lafayette’s population has remained flat, while at the same time thousands of college students move into our community each year, which creates an opportunity for growth. Many UL Lafayette students, however, don’t take the short walk from campus across Johnston Street and University Avenue to discover the amenities Downtown Lafayette has to offer. One of the presenters on 1A’s Leadership Exchange trip to Pensacola called this our “cool, small problem to solve.”

Solving this problem will require investing in improvements to bike and pedestrian safety, one of the quality of life factors that UL Lafayette students rated lowest, according to 1A’s latest Quality of Life Survey. A recent study tracked nearly 4,000 pedestrian crossings across Johnston Street and University Avenue daily. That was before UL opened its new health sciences campus across Johnston Street at the former Our Lady of Lourdes site. As pedestrian crossings in this area continue to increase, safety improvements are becoming ever more urgent.

Moncus Park Connectivity

Another community asset that is challenging for bicyclists and pedestrians to access is Moncus Park. That challenge is being partially addressed with the first route of the Bicycle Lafayette Plan funded to connect Moncus Park to Girard Park. Improvements are also needed at the intersection of Johnston Street and Bertrand Drive to enhance safety for pedestrians accessing the park from this direction.


André Breaux
VP, Policy Initiatives & Governmental Affairs