NEW ORLEANS - People wonder what an updated Bourbon Street will look like, as the city begins revealing its plans to upgrade the quality of life in the French Quarter.
It's a plan with a price tag of $40 million. The city wants to make the world-famous Bourbon Street safer, with more cameras and turning it into a pedestrian mall. There are still many unknowns about the plan, with residents asking how it will change the street's decades-old character and culture.
Changing the culture of Bourbon Street and making it more like Royal Street, as much as I would love it, I think it's going to be a very tall mountain to climb," said Franco Valobra, Owner of Valobra Jewelry and Antiques.
On Royal Street, you'll find Valobra Jewelry and Antiques with one-of-a-kind world class pieces and an international clientele.
"We've had anybody from the prime minister of Israel to Richard Gere, Nicolas Cage," said Valobra.
One short city block over on Bourbon Street, is a culture light years away.
"We love it. It's a little bit on the seedy side, but that's what makes it New Orleans. That's what makes it fun," said tourist Brent Futo, who brings a crew to the French Quarter a few times a year from his home in Atlanta.
As the city rolls out its plan to change the "culture of lawlessness" on Bourbon Street, some Vieux Carre' property owners are concerned about the area becoming a Disney World version of itself.
At Valobra, they welcome the city's attention to the Quarter. There is concern about the panhandling and homelessness, but there's concern too about making the two streets too similar. They say Royal and Bourbon are like day and night, literally.
"I like them for the dualism. It's the yin and the yang. They work well together. Let's spend money cleaning it. I have lived in the city 30 years and I have never seen it this dirty," said Valobra.
The non-profit GNO, INC works to bring economic development to Southeast Louisiana and sees a similar goal to a New York icon.
"Times Square went from a place that people avoided, to become a place where people from all over the world come to, not just for tourism, but also for business," said GNO, INC. President and CEO Michael Hecht.
The group feels better lighting, more repairs on the infrastructure and a stricter limit on the types of retailers, will make the area more attractive for people who avoid it while upgrading the brand.
"I don't think we're ever going to change the essence of what is Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. That is baked into the very fat cells of the neighborhood, but I think that we can soften the edges," Hecht added.
The public will have a chance to weigh in on how far the softening goes.
The city says the traffic patterns are being studied now so they can come up with a plan for the pedestrian mall. They want to enforce existing laws and plan more public meetings before there is a proposed design.
© 2017 WWL-TV