NEW ORLEANS - There’s a growing sense of optimism for the Tulane Avenue corridor in Mid-City, a once-bustling area that fell into decline decades ago.
With high hopes fueled by construction on the massive bio-medical complex nearby, Justin Pitard took a chance on Tulane Avenue about a year ago, by opening a restaurant – Avery’s Po-Boys.
"We saw it in Freret Street. We saw it in Magazine Street before that, and now, here we are with Tulane Avenue. The area is primed and ready to go for development," he said.
However, Pitard said some major roadblocks remain.
"The blight and the crime -- prostitution, drug dealing," he said.
Even with the addition of several new businesses over the past year, some believe Tulane Avenue's ongoing problems are threatening its momentum.
Now, those investing in the area are calling on city leaders to help, primarily through code enforcement and the formation of new, tougher regulations.
"A lot of the business owners out here wanna see the ordinance that governs motel and hotel rentals changed to where it forbids hourly room rentals. So we're passing their wishes on to the city council," said Josef Wright, President of the Mid-City Business Association. "Any kind of areas or businesses that have a lot of crime and arrest histories, we wanna investigate those."
Entrepreneurs like Pauline Patterson saud a crackdown on crime and blight will be a critical step in the area's transformation - as hospital construction continues and plans for a $10 million street-scape project take shape.
Patterson, who co-owns Finn McCool’s bar in Mid-City, is set to launch a new venture on Tulane Avenue – a gallery space and craft cocktail bar called Treo.
"I don't think they should wait until this hospital is up and ready before they address any of the crime areas or the prostitution on Tulane. I think they've got a wonderful opportunity to make this an absolutely gorgeous looking street and now is the time to do it," Patterson said.
Patterson and other business owners said they’ve already had positive discussions with city council members regarding their concerns.