Cranes in the sky are evidence that Fat City revitalization is underway

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Fat City, once known for its bars and nightclubs, is becoming a different kind of hot spot in Metairie. Construction is underway for some major developments.

"You see the cranes starting to build what will be a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office substation, but not just any substation. This one will have retail on the ground floor and the Sheriff's Office on the second floor. It makes it much more vibrant on the street level," said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

Van Vrancken said this is part of their plans to rejuvenate the area.

"This is sort of a ground zero area where we hope these few blocks start to have a critical mass of some regeneration and transformation, and that will be a tipping point for all of that," Van Vrancken said.

Next to the substation, Van Vrancken said they hope to turn the open land into green space.

"We've never had a green space for people to come out and gather, hear music, kids to play. So this is the first thing that you'll start to see this taking shape," Van Vrancken said.

Just a block over, the Budget Mail Center will turn into an innovative library.

"E-libraries are not your traditional books on shelves. You have lots of technology. So we'll have lots of computers, lots of new technology, maybe a makerspace where someone can go in and make their product on a 3D computer," Van Vrancken said.

Van Vrancken said they're also considering making some streets one way to make room for on-street parking, which some business owners desperately need.

"Parking has been my biggest challenge to overcome, and at the moment, we're having to lease three additional parking lots just for our guests to accommodate everybody," Los Jefes Owner Oscar Chimal said.

Chimal said he's looking forward to the changes and has noticed improvements - from the improved drainage on Edenborn Avenue to new street lamps - since he opened his restaurant three years ago.

"And programs they're putting out for business owners like myself, grants to improve the facade of the outside of the buildings. Like us, we're getting, our courtyard's going to be roofed in," Chimal said.

Van Vrancken said she hopes these changes will bring more economic development.

"This area is critical. Not only to Metairie, but to all of the parish. Lakeside Shopping Center generates five percent of the entire parish's sales tax revenue. We have lots of neighborhoods around here, Veterans corridor. This is the heart. It's really the city center," Van Vrancken said.

Van Vrancken said there's no set date for completion.