Bottle Art Lofts, Acadiana Center for the Arts partner on community-focused art gallery

Bottle Art Lofts, apartments developed in the historic former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Cameron Street with occupancy geared toward local artists, is partnering with Acadiana Center for the Arts on its first in-house exhibition.

The new gallery space called MoreArt Gallery will feature and promote community-oriented art exhibits from artists across the region, including those residing in the Bottle Loft Arts.

The inaugural exhibition, which will open with a reception at 6 p.m. Oct. 2 and run through Jan. 1, will feature paintings by Black contemporary artist Cory St. Ewart, a resident of Lafayette.

In a press release, Acadiana Center for the Arts Executive Director Sam Oliver said the organization’s role is “to ensure accountability to residents of the neighborhood and representation of diverse voices.”

Bottle Art Lofts developed by HRI Communities makes use of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant and warehouse built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Phase I of the development includes 40 residential units. It began accepting residents in June and is about half filled. The development offers residents secure parking, a computer center, fitness center, shared art studio, picnic area and garden area.

Development of Phase II of Bottle Art Lofts is on schedule and should be available for residents in February. The second phase includes a four-story apartment building on University Avenue at Cameron Street, the former site of the LessPay Motel which was demolished more than a year ago to make way for the apartments.

Phase II is expected to include 65 mixed-income one- and two-bedroom apartments with a fitness center and community room and other amenities similar to Phase I.

The HRI properties are expected to be a catalyst for development in a neglected area, which was a focus for revitalization under former Lafayette Parish Mayor-President Joel Robideaux and is a federally designated Opportunity Zone offering tax deferments to developers and investors.

The HRI Bottle Art Lofts project was awarded a $7.2 million grant from the Louisiana Housing Corporation through its Piggyback Resilient Mixed-Income funding. As a result, Phase II will be designed and constructed to mitigate the potential impact of natural disasters such as flooding.

Funding for Phases I and II, at $32 million, comes from private and public sources, including local, state and federal entities.

About $5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding was committed to the project and the Acadiana Planning Commission provided $500,000 to help secure the grant.

The Lafayette City Council in April approved a $1.5 million transfer needed for a loan authorized in 2019 by the former City-Parish Council.

Local development offices are working on improving the University Avenue corridor in that area to make it more pedestrian-friendly and to attract additional businesses.