With any diet, it takes time and patience to see results. The same could be said for the Government Street “road diet,” which began way back in January 2018.
The $11.7 million project is set to be complete this summer, with some final elements including drainage work, railroad repairs, restriping and landscaping. Then, the state officially transfers the road over to the city, according to DOTD communications director Rodney Mallett.
Anything pre-pandemic seems like ages ago, but for businesses in Mid City, this construction project especially took an extended toll after getting delayed from its original 2019 completion date.
The redesign aimed to slim down the congested thoroughfare from four lanes to two with a center turning lane and bike lanes along most of its sections. It included a much-needed roundabout at Lobdell Avenue, and left-turn signals at Acadian Thruway.
But while traffic flow and safety were big drivers of the project, the aim for the neighborhood was to create a more pedestrian-friendly shopping and entertainment district similar to Magazine Street in New Orleans.
Mid City has always been known for its funky shops and neighborhood hangouts, but the prospect of a redesigned streetscape has attracted new developments as well as eclectic small businesses—with more on the way.
All the better to experience by bike or on foot, according to Mallett, who has biked the new pavement himself and calls it “a great way to spend a Saturday.”
“We’ve had some negative reviews, but a lot of positive reviews, too,” he says. “You can tell by the number of investments along that street and the number of businesses opening up that it’s doing quite well. The big thing is getting people used to the change.”
Here’s a look at the new things you might see along Government Street on your next visit to the neighborhood.
What’s new in Mid City
1. Gallery 14
The event venue joins Dyke Nelson Architecture and advertising agency ThreeSixtyEight in revitalizing former warehouses along this stretch of 14th Street.
2. Millennial Park project
CEO Cameron Jackson is partnering with other developers to convert a vacant lot into his second shipping container park, featuring eateries and a covered patio. “I’ve learned a lot about how to do things, like permitting, and I see this new one as being a lot bigger,” Jackson says.
3. Former Valley House Hotel
Investor Anthony Kimble purchased the two-story former hotel in 2020 with an eye for redevelopment, though he has not yet disclosed plans for the historic building.
The large complex in a former Entergy site is still buzzing with activity despite some hiccups, with Red Stick Social hosting indoor and outdoor concerts post-pandemic. Meanwhile, Boru Ramen, Sweet Society and City Roots continue to attract crowds, and rumors swirl about which tenants might come next to the development.
The budding arts collective has taken over an empty storefront, hosting eclectic and diverse art shows and performances.
6. Circa 1857 complex
The hub for art and antiques is now home to the monthly Mid City Makers Market. You can also grab brunch or lunch at Leola’s Cafe and Coffee House, which opened in January.
7. Former Garden District Nursery
The property, which houses multiple buildings, was purchased in April by the Hammond-based Neill family, which operates several Aveda salons. No word yet on how it will be redeveloped.
Teresa and James Hyfield turned this Eugene Street building into a cozy neighborhood bookstore hosting pop-up shops and kid-focused events.
The vacant building near Ogden Park Shopping Center that was formerly home to Pop Shop Records is being revamped as an adult arcade and bar. Its opening date has yet to be announced.
10. Youth City Lab
The former church/Sarkis Oriental Rug store is being rehabbed by four nonprofit partners into a youth-focused facility called Youth City Lab. Once complete, Big Buddy, Humanities Amped, Line 4 Line and Front Yard Bikes will all have a presence in the 10,000-square-foot space.
11. Bistro Byronz and Tap 65
The French bistro favorite is sliding down Government Street to take over the former White Star Market space at Square 46, which it will share with Tap 65, a new restaurant and bar concept from the owners of Mid Tap. Also on the ground floor of Square 46 is Mid-City Artisans, which opened in April and helps more than 60 local creators sell their work.
12. The Spoke and Hub
City Group Hospitality is taking over the former Bistro Byronz space for this bicycling-themed restaurant. Owner Stephen Hightower hasn’t released much information other than the name, saying he wants it to be “a great neighborhood spot, just like it already was.”
This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue of 225 magazine.