NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Empty storefronts and low sales tax revenue plague some areas in Kenner. Officials hope finding out what residents want can help those ailing districts.
A picturesque old style main street sits at the foot of Williams Boulevard in Kenner. Troy Gendusa is the owner of Gendusa’s Italian Market in Rivertown. He said, “I love this little area. It wasn’t much going on when I got here.”
The restaurant is a bright spot in the neighborhood where several businesses thrive. Gendusa said, “Come on down to Rivertown. We got stuff happening.”
Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn is excited about what’s going on in Rivertown. He said, “Obviously Rivertown has had some improvements in the last couple of years.”
He says there has already been some progress in the area, but he is hoping for more. Zahn said the city relies heavily on sales taxes so more development is important. In Rivertown interspersed with the businesses doing well and getting a facelift there are still several vacant properties.
Zahn believes the city can do better. He said, “Look the more we can attract here the better off we are as Kenner residents.”
The city hopes to do that with the help of a consulting firm. “This is a grant that we actually got to pay the consultant. We don’t want to spend money; we want to spend grant money to attract money because we desperately need sales tax.”
The firm, TSW, is taking input on how to spur business from the community in an online survey. The consultants will craft a plan using the information in hopes to bring in private investment.
Zahn said Rivertown is an ongoing project, but he thinks the biggest impact will be in the Esplanade Mall area. He said, “The people here in Rivertown are local people. When you’re dealing with out-of-town companies you always have some issues. Obviously, the mall was hanging on by its fingertips before Covid.”
The administration believes the research with input from residents can show investors there is money to be made in the city.
Zahn said, “We want public input besides us the mayor, the council people, the administration. We need to know what the Kenner people want.”
Gendusa said, “Hopefully it will bring some more business into this area because I think the more. I think we feed off each other. I really think more people in the area equals more business for everybody.”
You can take the survey online at the city of Kenner website or pick up a paper copy at the Code Enforcement Office.
Surveys are due Wednesday, March 17th.
At the end of the month the consulting firm will hold open planning meetings on zoom to show the survey results and get more feedback on their suggestions.
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