Pictured here are Rotary President Richard LeJeune (left) and Ville Platte Mayor and Rotarian Jennifer Vidrine (right). Mayor Vidrine spoke about economic development opportunities and other issues around the city. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Developing real estate and economies
Real estate values and economic development opportunities are two issues that go hand-in-hand when it comes to the success of any city across the nation. Both of these issues were discussed by different speakers at the previous two meetings of the Ville Platte Rotary Club.
At the club’s last meeting of July, Ville Platte native and daughter of Rixby and Flossie Manuel, Lana Soileau, talked about the real estate market here in the parish. She is a real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty.
“For me, so far, I’ve sold $2.4 million in Evangeline Parish over the past year,” Soileau said. “My production here is up 89.6 percent in sales and 23.5 percent in volume. Listings are also up 145.6 percent.”
While the listings are steadily going up, Soileau explained that the average sales prices are trending in the opposite direction. “I can attribute that to a couple of things,” she stated. “There seems to be a mass exodus out of town, which I hate to see. I really hate to see that because we have such beautiful, nice homes that are just dumped on the market. What it’s doing is actually bringing the property values down.”
“I hear all of the time that people don’t want to live in Ville Platte,” she continued. “This is a great town, and I think it has so much potential. I think there are some great people trying to do some great things here, and I think, with hard work and some effort, we can regrow this town.”
Soileau used examples of other places in the area that have regrown their towns.
“Breaux Bridge has an awesome downtown that, at one time, was a defunct downtown,” Soileau stated. “In Grand Coteau and Sunset, we have so many people moving to those areas that at one time nobody wanted to live in.”
She added, “In Grand Coteau, I just listed a little brand new cottage in an area where we are building a development. Nobody would have wanted to live there five years ago, but we’re among antique shops and great restaurants.”
Similar examples can be seen in Opelousas where, according to Soileau, “people are reinvading back.” She added, “We’re getting people who are reinvading the Market Street/Court Street area with all the beautiful old homes. It’s even happening on Grolee Street. These are places where nobody wanted to live.”
Soileau also expressed the importance of building up Ville Platte “because it’s easier to tear it down.”
Earlier in the same meeting, the Rotary Club presented scholarships to former Sacred Heart students who recently attended Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). The scholarships were presented to Callie Pitre and Darrelyn Lachney. Pitre will be starting school in the fall at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette where she will pursue a degree in psychology, and Lachney will be starting school at LSUE for nursing and will specialize in pediatrics.
The following week, Rotarian and Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine shared some news on an issue that, as she said, was “bothering everybody.” She expressed, “I did speak to the owner of McDonald’s along with a lot of other people, and McDonald’s will be fixing that dip where people go into their parking lot after they finish their renovations.”
The mayor then updated the club on important projects going on around the city especially new economic development opportunities.
She said that a new restaurant opened in town and that healthcare business will be moving into Floyd Soileau’s old building just past East End Exxon. “That will be another building on Main Street that will be occupied,” the mayor commented.
Another vacant building on Main Street will become a pediatrician’s office.
She added, “We have Teet’s doing its 21-thousand-foot new building. That will not only add more space for their sausage, but that will be more jobs to come as well.”
According to the mayor, other new jobs in the city will be available when Dominos opens on the corner of Tate Cove and LaSalle. She said, “They are looking at an opening date of early November.”
Other new businesses that are possibly coming are Chicken King, Yogurt Land, and an Urgent Care.
Mayor Vidrine also spoke on the situation about the new hotel. “The hotel people were on site yesterday (Monday),” she said. “We looked at three or four different sites and looked at a 60-100 room hotel. We also are going to meet again with the owner of our Best Western to see if he will be interested in doing a renovation and extension for more rooms.”
Other improvements to Main Street will be the addition of 400-watt LED bulbs. “If you look from Chataignier down to Sacred Heart, Main Street is kind of dim,” the mayor stated. “It’s now only 100-watt bulbs, so we will be adding bulbs to where they can see Main Street from space.”
The mayor also talked about some grant opportunities that are available to beautify Main Street. She said, “We are trying to get some grants to turn Main Street around. Main Street is supposed to be nice and quaint and show what the city is about.”