KENNER, La. (AP) — Kenner's efforts to turn its Rivertown district into a focal point for development are getting a boost after the area received an official Main Street designation from the state.
The New Orleans Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/1i6cvTu) the designation formally places Rivertown among several dozen areas in Louisiana that are part of the national Main Street program, aimed at promoting and reinvigorating urban corridors.
The designation will help the city bring new resources to the river area, work with state and other officials on its revitalization and provide opportunities for businesses and others to weigh in on its future, officials said.
"This is a huge boost to the whole area," Mayor Mike Yenni said.
Louisiana's Main Street program, now in its 30th year, includes 37 local programs.
Rivertown is the first district in in Jefferson Parish to get the designation. Areas of Monroe and Homer also have been approved by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
A common focus of many Main Street programs is aesthetic improvements aimed at making an area more attractive to the foot traffic to bring customers and residents to the area.
Rivertown already has a head start on that process.
Kenner planner and grant administrator Michael Ince said grants from the state Department of Transportation and Development are being used for new brick sidewalks and ornamental lighting.
The Main Street program does not directly bring investment to a participating area. But Kenner officials will be able to tap expertise offered by the state program and the designation can be used to help drum up grants.
Yenni said five separate Main Street programs have been in effective in nearby New Orleans.
For example, Yenni said a $5,000-a-year grant that will allow the Kenner program to put on special events was the same funding that allowed the creation of the Po-Boy Festival on Oak Street.
Yenni said Rivertown is ripe for its own festival as well.
"I think we've got to come up with one that's going to pique the interest of younger families and younger adults," he said.
The new program comes after the state designated Rivertown a cultural district last summer. In addition to some benefits for artists and developers, that designation also served as a stepping-stone toward the Main Street program.
Kenner officials also have hawked the area's Office of Motor Vehicles and Registrar of Voters Office. They say those offices may not have the cachet of new theaters or catering halls but bring people to the area who can support the businesses, officials said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com