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More business, construction coming to Freret

Rook Cafe on Freret Street Rook Cafe on Freret Street

New Orleans, La. - Rook Cafe opened its doors last week, filling a former bookstore that sat empty for years before Hurricane Katrina.

Owner Roxanne Guidry says Freret Street seemed the logical choice for her first business venture.

"This area's just really bustling right now," she says. "All the businesses that have been opening seem to be doing really well."

The coffee shop is the newest business on the strip of Freret between Napoleon and Jefferson.

In 2009, James Carville called the area a litmus test for New Orleans' recovery from the storm.

Less than half of the storefronts were occupied before Katrina.

Now, new restaurants, cafes and clubs line the street.

Company Burger celebrated its 2nd anniversary this weekend.

"You write your business plan, you expect it to be here forever," says owner Adam Biderman. "I didn't want to do this without a 20-year business plan but what we have become in two years is absolutely mind blowing. I didn't expect this much so quickly."

There are more businesses coming.

The New Freret association says a bagel shop, Vietnamese restaurant and dress boutique have plans to open on the street.

The association says there are two things they're focused on as the area continues to grow, the condition of the streets and the security on them.

The city council and Harrah's Casino recently awarded the neighborhood a $3,000 dollar grant to add more surveillance cameras.

"We're working with Project NOLA and that will put about six cameras in the neighborhood and we've targeted some very hot spots where we still continually have issues," says Kellie Grengs of The New Freret.

Grengs says the roads should get better too.

The city and DOTD will start a construction project this week to fix the wheelchair ramps and repave the street.

"It's going to be a pain for a little but they're telling us November they will be done," says Grengs. "This November, not next November.

Guidry hopes the construction won't chase away her new customers.

She has big plans for her new coffee shop.

"I think in six months from now, the place will probably be a lot different, a lot more lived in and developed," she says. "I'm really excited to see what it's going to look like."

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