The new year will bring lots of exciting changes to downtown Shreveport.  That's the word from Downtown Development Authority Director Liz Swaine, who tells KEEL News the UNSCENE! features in Shreveport Common will be back in 2014.
"Those are wild! I mean they're crazy!" Swaine says.  "You don't know from month to month what you're going to be able to participate in.  If you go online and look at the calendar of events, it runs the gamut of insanity, but in an artistic way."  She says the monthly projects are guaranteed to feature something you've never seen before.

Swaine says one of the things the folks in her office are excited about is that Shreveport may be the debut location of a new Dave Matthews group.  Matthews may be coming to town, working with Brady Blade.  She says she should know something soon about that.

Another thing coming to the nine-block Art and Culture District envisioned for the west side of downtown involved the DDA and Swaine's other organization, the Downtown Shreveport Development Corporation.

"We're working with SRAC and the city and a number of other partners on a Shreveport Common Market Study," Swaine says.  "That's really important, because developers who are going to be spending lots of money on building and rehabilitating structures in Shreveport Common want to know that there's money to be made.  Let's face it, developers aren't doing this because they're a non-profit.  They're not doing it because they're altruistic.  They're doing it because they want to have a return on their investment."  Swaine tells us the market study will be unveiled around the first of the year.

If you've driven through downtown lately, you might have noticed several buildings are currently under construction, and there are several more that will soon be under construction.  "The old Sears building in the 600 block, right across from Robinson Film Center, lots of work going on there," she says.  "The owner of that hopes to get a live music venue in the basement of that building before year's end, and there'll be other work on the two buildings beside it."

Other buildings, like the Lake Street Dance Hall, have changed hands.  So there are exciting changes to come for those, as well.

Then, there's the history of downtown Shreveport, which Swaine calls "fascinating from get to go."  The very popular Hidden History Tour is back in May, and celebrates the 90th birthday of the Shreve Memorial Library.

What about new businesses for the Red River District?  Swaine says there are a few of those to come, too.  One of them is a new burger restaurant called The Fully Stacked, which should be open by early January.  The business passed all its inspections last week, and is getting a few small details finished up before throwing the doors open.

Cohab will be starting something new, too, utilizing its commercial kitchen.  It's called Lunch Counter, and will feature chefs from across the area preparing different types of food each day.  Another restaurant we could see there in the new year is owned by a popular country artist.

"Kix Brooks is still working on this fabulous Kix Brooks Wine Dive and Steakhouse that's going to be in the old MacArthur's Steakhouse and Chop Shop.  He's putting together packages on that," Swaine says.  "They're talking about putting lots and lots of money into the refurbishment of the building.  It'll be prime steaks, it will be wine from his own vineyard, which you can only get there.  And they're also talking about doing some sort of food-based reality program during the build-up of that restaurant."  And that translates into great publicity for Shreveport.

Swaine says the DDA's job is to keep up with the property that's available and make sure developers know what we have to offer.  You can find out more on the downtown Shreveport website.

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