Lots of activity downtown, including executive director search and plans for returning events like Live After 5

The Downtown Development District is recommending the Metro Council appoint DDD Assistant Executive Director Gabe Vicknair to serve as interim executive director while it also seeks the council’s permission to form a search committee to fill the role permanently.

The move comes one month after board chair Melanie Counce requested an opinion from the parish attorney’s office, asking for clarification regarding which entity has the authority to appoint the DDD executive director. The position has been vacant since the organization’s original and longtime leader, Davis Rhorer, died in March from COVID-19 complications.

“The Metro Council is the appointing authority, but the DDD Commission can make recommendations to the council,” Counce said before moving to recommend Vicknair for the interim role.

Over the years, Vicknair has served the DDD in various positions, according to the organization’s website, including intern, special events and marketing coordinator, development project director and, since 2012, assistant executive director.

Additionally, the board will ask for the Metro Council’s approval to form a search committee, which would allow the DDD to find and interview candidates for the full-time executive director role before making a formal recommendation to the council. Once both motions are sent to the council, they will be added to the next meeting agenda.

The leadership transition is happening as downtown Baton Rouge slowly returns to normal, with no more statewide mask mandate, loosened indoor capacity limits and lifted restrictions for alcohol sales. Consequently, more events are being lined up and some new developments are on the horizon.

“Things are picking back up,” Vicknair said. “It seems like a lot of people are going back to work. … We’re looking forward to getting back on our feet this summer and fall.”

Among key updates:

• Cameron Jackson has purchased a lot at South 14th Street and Government Street with plans to open another shipping container park, which is being billed as a more family-friendly version of his Millennial Park on Florida Boulevard.

• The renaming of City Hall Plaza to the Davis S. Rhorer Plaza has been approved by the Metro Council, with an onsite ceremony planned for a to-be-determined date.

• Cornelius Quarels is redeveloping the old Hound Dogs location into a lounge and rooftop bar called The Main Lobby, which will have an atmosphere akin to a hotel lobby bar, offer opportunities for quiet business meetings, and serve small plates. A soft opening is being planned for July.

• After a lengthy hiatus, Live After 5 is coming back Aug. 20, with the event scheduled for 12 consecutive Fridays.

• Bids for the Riverfront Plaza project are due May 27.

This story originally appeared in a May 11 edition of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.