METAIRIE, La. -- Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said he is stepping out of the box when it comes to fighting crime and he is pointing to controversial laws in Fat City in Metairie. Those laws include shutting down adult businesses and limiting bar hours.
Fat City’s last strip club now exists only as a bar. Shutting down strip clubs is just the most recent change to Fat City.
In Fat City these days there are lots of empty storefronts. Many empty stores are the result of bars that have closed in the last two years since a law went into effect restricting bar hours in the area.
Kim Dozier, a bartender at Bottom Line Bar and Grill, said the place was once a 24-hour hangout. Now it is barely hanging on. “It’s gotten a lot less business around here, there’s nobody around here anymore.”
But proponents say change is a good thing.
“What you see Fat City going through right now, and you can see when you drive around, is a transition; it’s a neighborhood in transition and you see a lot of new businesses coming in, you see some vacancies,” said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng.
Lee-Sheng spearheaded the effort to transform Fat City -- once a nightlife hot spot in the 70s. The most recent part of the transition was all strip clubs and adult shops had to close by Dec. 31.
“I think it’s much more attractive for investment which was always our goal, was more private investment,” said Lee-Sheng.
Indeed, two new restaurants are slated to fill some recently shuttered buildings on 18th street. Sheriff Newell Normand says since the 1 a.m. weekend closing times went into effect crime has dropped in the area.
In a press conference Friday about 2012 crime, Normand said it is an example of his office’s quality of life initiatives. “Those are the type of community impact things and the holistic approach that you do that we’ve been proud to stand with many partners. “
But others believe the changes are stripping away the soul of Fat City and there are other ways to curb crime.
The crime rate has gone down; it is because we have no people coming here anymore,” said Dozier.