Fat City bouncing back from negative reputation

In a place that some once called "seedy," there's now progress.

METAIRIE -- Sonia Munoz owns Joley's Bazaar, a beauty salon, barbershop and convenience store in Fat City.

Living in Fat City for nearly 30 years, Munoz remembers the days when this part of town looked and sounded completely different.

"The people dancing around the street, like Bourbon Street. Before they had police in front. All the evenings they had police here. But right now I feel more comfortable right now than before," Munoz said.

The same goes for Metairie resident Debbie Pierce, who lives just outside Fat City.

"I do remember the days when it was bars and yeah, I think this is a much better," Pierce said. "A much better situation for everyone."

It has been a long process to get rid of the bars and strip clubs that took over Fat City by the turn of the century. In April 2011, the reduced hours for bars ordinance took effect, setting last call at midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends. In January 2013, the strip clubs were shut down. Revitalization became the primary goal for Councilmembers Jennifer Van Vrancken and Cynthia Lee-Sheng.

"Councilwoman Lee-Sheng started the ball rolling. So some of the ordinances that she changed addressed some of the bar activities. Some of the problem activities several years back. She also called together a committee of people to start planning what would the future of fat city be," Van Vrancken said.

Councilwoman Van Vracken said Fat City is also seeing major construction projects begin. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office plans on building a new substation on Hessmer Avenue. Right next door, crews are demolishing old property and turning it into a small park for neighbors in the area to enjoy.

Sunday, leaders unveiled Fat City's new farmer's market. These new projects, however did not come without skepticism. At first Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago's Seafood Restaurant, didn't buy it.

"It didn't really sit well with me," Cvitanovich said. "I had a different idea. I had a different plan. But, one thing you can't do is you can't argue with success."

"This is kind of the heart of Metairie. And we need to make sure that heart is very healthy," Van Vrancken said.

It is that healthy and progressive movement community leaders, business owners and longtime residents feel is growing Fat City. They hope it is seen as an example for other communities in the Greater New Orleans area who are looking for a makeover.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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