Location. Location. Location. After ensuring a property meets the minimum amenities for life and work, the “L” word is everything in real estate. For location, Lafayette has been traditionally divided into two broad, general areas: the historic and more ethnically mixed north Side; and the newer, more affluent south side. In most communities around the country, the city eventually grows into the parish; Lafayette is no different. Bounded to the parish of Lafayette, the small towns and communities on the outskirts become defined by their location within the parish and each offers something unique.
However, since the mid 1990s, the growth throughout Lafayette Parish has been phenomenal. What was formerly the north Side of the city is now being called “Upper Lafayette” to aptly reflect this renaissance and move away from what some may have been considered a negative connotation. This portion of the parish has experienced tremendous growth in the technology and corporate sectors. Hub City Ford, Schilling Distributing and Acadian Ambulance are well established enterprises that have chosen to make their new corporate headquarters in Upper Lafayette with many others following their lead. The development of the new retail center at Louisiana Avenue and Interstate 10 has drawn much praise from the community. But, there is more to Upper Lafayette than just business.
It’s a great place to live: the geographical and topographical location provide areas that possess natural beauty with rolling hills and oak trees and space to spread out. With easy access to downtown and two interstate highways, it is an ideal location to consider. The residential developments focus on family and offer, in some instances, large tracts of acreage for small estates, namely Beau Bois, which is currently in development, and Oakridge Crossing, a Coussan family project offering many 1- and 2-plus-acre estate sites.
You’re not likely to see an effort to change the name of Lafayette’s “south side” because of its longstanding growth pattern. Since the mid-70s, the Mall of Acadiana has served as a regional retail shopping mall, drawing customers from throughout the outlying areas. With the business and retail developments along Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Kaliste Saloom, south Lafayette’s residential growth has been tremendous. No longer bounded by the intersection of Ambassador and Kaliste Saloom, residential communities and subdivisions as well as our infrastructure have expanded beyond Verot School Road, E. Broussard Road and the Youngsville Highway. South Lafayette boasts many major medical facilities and schools that are highly ranked. The business office parks located in south Lafayette have attracted many local companies and professional services individuals to meet the rising needs of the residents in this part of the parish.
In a recent article in ultoday.com, Dr. Joe Abraham makes the argument that there is now a third area of Lafayette, the UL District. This includes the areas surrounding UL’s campus, together with downtown, the Oil Center and several prominent, historic Lafayette neighborhoods.
Abraham notes, “If Lafayette is the Hub, UL is the Axle.” The UL district comprises, in just under 3 square miles, a tremendous diversity and cosmopolitan mix of residents, businesses, and cultural and educational offerings. It is the professional, legal, governmental, medical, and artistic center of Acadiana. In adjacent Bendel Gardens and in the Saints Streets area, the UL district offers some of the most affluent residential areas in Acadiana, while the neighborhoods around Freetown and the UL campus contain very affordable properties and rentals. For businesses, there is the upscale Oil Center, the increasingly attractive downtown, and some of the best values in historical quality construction around Freetown and areas adjacent to downtown.
Do you enjoy walking or biking? The UL district is easily manageable without getting in your car. Do you want to be near arts and culture? Acadiana’s most prominent cultural assets are here. Do you need a diverse clientele that’s generally more interested in diversity and quality, rather than ostentation and trendiness? Do you want an international, well-educated, eclectic cultural and economic mix of customers and neighbors? Do you value innovation, open-mindedness, creativity and a wide range of lifestyles?
So, when you are considering a move to an “area” of Lafayette, remember that we have upper Lafayette, south Lafayette and the UL district. There will be something for you in any of these areas, whether you are looking for commercial, investment or residential properties.
Lafayette native Jim Keaty is the owner of Keaty Real Estate, a full-service firm he founded in 2004. To comment on this column, e-mail