The New Alexandria - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

The New Alexandria

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - Alexandria: we like to think it's a city that won't stop growing. But eventually, you have to find somewhere to do all that expanding. News Channel 5's Kathleen Witte with local business owners and city officials about what could be the new Alexandria.

Brocato's Breakfast and Lunch moved last month for one simple, and happy, reason. 

"We outgrew where we were," says owner Sam Brocato. 

The old and new locations have one important thing in common: they're both on Coliseum Boulevard, or Hwy. 28 West. Sam Brocato says, it's the place to be in Alexandria.

"As 28, as Coliseum continues to grow, we're seeing more and more customers," he says.
"But really, the Versailles area was the one big item that I guess you might say, put us over the hump."

Brocato says, he has especially seen an increase in customers since the completion of Versailles Boulevard in September 2010. 

"What Versailles did for us was to open up that part of town," says Brocato. "The Jackson Street part of town. And immediately, we saw a business increase."

Versailles Boulevard now connects Jackson Street Extension to 28 West, an idea Alexandria director of economic development Albin Provosty says has been in the works for 20 years.

"It was virtually impossible to get from Jackson to Coliseum, without spending about 20 minutes going almost in a circle," says Provosty. "Coliseum was already expanding. So actually Versailles was just...that needed to happen. Now the side effect of that, is if you look at Coliseum you'll see it's an explosion of commercial development."

The Versailles connection hasn't just allowed existing businesses to expand: the increased traffic flow also has new businesses like Studio 28 Salon to coming to town.

"We opened in April of this year. So, we are a baby. We're new," says Studio 28 manager Ellen Hundley. "This is just a growing area. We have so many subdivisions, and we have to accommodate those outlying areas so they don't have to go further into town. This is the only place for it to grow. So this is the new hot place to be." 

Cenla residents seem to agree.

"It's really growing up out here, giving more opportunities, places to eat, things to do," says Ashley Davis of Alexandria. "Really, a more exciting Alexandria for us right now."

"Alexandria is changing, is maturing as a city," says resident James Hardin. "The growth and development. The growth and development that's occurring is extremely positive from my point of view." 

The development won't just be retail. Maurice Hebert of Hebert Commercial Development already has 36 town homes for rent under construction.

"We're doing that because if you look around town at the rental properties that are available, most of them are occupied," says Hebert. "So there's an opportunity there for rental properties."

Albin Provosty says, that's what the city likes to see.

"There's talk by mix use developers, meaning residential and commercial," he says. "Smart growth is here. The city is very interested in it."

Hebert says what 28 West could use is more dining options. But he says, that will come.

"As the area continues to grow, I think the demand really for restaurants," says Hebert. "I can understand that at this point there's probably not enough rooftops in this area, but I think it's only a matter of time."

Sam Brocato says, he and his restaurant welcome the competition, and all the customers driving across Versailles boulevard and into the new Alexandria.

"The reason I picked 28 when I decided to get back into the business, is to at least get my foot in the door, be out here at the inception of the growth on 28," says Brocato. "And it seems to have worked."

City officials also say that the construction on 28 West all the way to Leesville is expected to be completed by the end of this year, bringing in even more traffic to the Coliseum Boulevard area.

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