Commission approves 2013 budget for DDD

The Downtown Development District Commission on Tuesday approved a $620,000 budget for 2013.

The main difference between this budget and the last is $100,000 more in spending for professional services.

Executive Director Davis Rhorer said the district will use the money to hire consultants to undertake studies and initiatives, such as design work for riverfront development and a marketing study for a downtown grocery store.

“You have approval to work as hard as you can and do as much as you can and not take any days off,” Chairwoman Christine Nichols told Rhorer.

Rhorer said the grocery store study will look at a handful of possible locations.

The bottom floor of the Commerce Building at Third and Laurel streets has been suggested as one potential site.

Preliminary plans for the building call for 7,000 square feet of retail space.

In other action:

FOOD TRUCKS: Rhorer said the Downtown Development District has gotten complaints about food trucks parking too near existing restaurants, noise from the trucks’ generators, and the trucks occupying metered parking spaces for more than two hours, a violation of city-parish regulations.

Rhorer said he likes the food trucks, but they need to respect the existing businesses, which pay market rates for building space and employ people.

The district is working with the Baton Rouge Police Department to enforce the two-hour parking limit, Rhorer said.

GALVEZ STAGE: The board learned that the district has come up with a name for the sculpture cover for the Galvez Plaza stage: the Crest.

The pieces of the stainless steel structure have begun arriving and it should be completed by the end of the year, Rhorer said. The piece may be unique and will be iconic for Baton Rouge, he said.

LITERARY CAPITAL: The commission agreed to form a special committee that will develop a plan to make Baton Rouge the literary capital of Louisiana.

Board member Van Mayhall Jr. said downtown and midcity already are doing a terrific job of promoting the Louisiana Book Festival and the visual arts.

The book festival drew thousands of people, proving there is pent-up demand from people and authors, Mayhall said.

Louisiana has major presses and resources available, such as the state Lieutenant Governor’s Office, to set up Baton Rouge as the literary capital of the state.