By Stacey Tinsley, firstname.lastname@example.org
While Bossier City’s population is increasing, and commercial development continues to expand in north Bossier, some wonder why it doesn’t always seem so equal in south Bossier.
Some south Bossier City residents may like to keep it that way. But others have voiced a desire to see more commercial options closer to home, rather than having to travel across the Jimmie Davis Bridge to Shreveport or battle the traffic on Airline Drive in north Bossier.
“I would love more businesses to come in the area. South Bossier residents either have to drive to Youree or Airline for shopping and restaurants,” said South Bossier resident Heather Marie Wilkinson.
There are grocery stores such as Kroger, Brookshire’s and a Walmart Neighborhood Market, plus gas stations, car washes, and dollar stores. But there’s nothing quite comparable to the ongoing activity on Airline Drive in north Bossier or the retail corridor of Youree Drive.
“Shreveport is receiving a good part of south Bossier consumers’ business because south Bossier does not have the shopping locations that we like to shop at and it’s quick to get over the bridge. North Bossier is way more congested than going over to Shreveport,” said Wilkinson.
Heading south on Barksdale Boulevard, to the southern part of the parish, most restaurants are smaller and local, or of the drive-through, fast-food variety.
“What would be cool is if more mom and pop restaurants developed, because all we have is fast food,” said Brady Hibner, owner of Fat Tuesday restaurant. “We have undeveloped areas in front of the CenturyLink Center, or right there next to Cafe USA. There’s also a few lots in the area around next to Burger King.”
While development continues to expand north, that same activity is hindered in south Bossier.
For the reason why, answers can be found in the development of oil and gas firms. While the success there helped the parish survive the national economic downturn, it also means a lack of land where further infrastructures can be built.
North of Barksdale Boulevard between Bossier City’s southern edge and Taylortown are hundreds of tightly clustered wells established around the natural gas boom of 2008. Few rigs are pumping on the shale these days, but capping the wells or building around their underground infrastructure would be a serious feat.
“There are limited parcels of available land in south Bossier for a big development to locate. We’re hindered on the east side because the majority of it is residential. And on the west side there are some parcels available, but property values are high. If you go further south of the city limits, it’s all oil field,” said Carlotta Askew-Brown, assistant director of the Bossier City Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).
Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus concurs with Askew-Brown’s assessment.
“The problem with south Bossier is there is not a lot of land that you can build on. You have oil and gas and it is leased out. And there’s also gathering lines everywhere. You can’t find 100 acres that’s not encumbered by something,” said Altimus. “And south Bossier floods a lot. It’s very flat, no levees, and then water backs up south to north from the Red River when it is high.”
Another reason why development is not currently taking place in south Bossier is because big box stores won’t settle there without more rooftops.
Big retail wants big housing numbers. More than 60 percent of residential growth in Bossier City since 2008 has happened in north Bossier City.
“We have areas where major development can come in and build big box stores, but development is based on rooftops and we just simply don’t have that,” said Bossier City Council Member Scott Irwin, who represents the south Bossier district. “I do believe we will have more development once more rooftops are built in south Bossier, but we want to have smart growth so traffic flows well.”
Hopefully it will all arrive in the future, said Askew-Brown.
“Developers are actively looking to bring additional housing to south Bossier,” she said.