You don’t really need a study to tell you that Bossier City is growing. Just try to travel down Airline Drive or Benton Road at 5 p.m. But while the city’s population is increasing each year, and commercial development continues to expand in north Bossier, some wonder why it doesn’t always seem so equal in the southern part of the city.
“I get asked that question all the time,” Bossier City Chief Administrative Officer Pam Glorioso said.
For the answer, thank population density and demographics. And the development in recent decades of oil and gas infrastructure in south Bossier Parish.
At a recent Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission meeting, a commercial developer requested a zoning change to place four new, national restaurants on Airline Drive north of Interstate 220.
Those restaurants would be built across the highway from a large commercial shopping center that houses big-box stores such as Target, Best Buy and Academy Sports, and sit-down restaurants like Olive Garden.
Meanwhile, heading south on Barksdale Boulevard, which takes drivers past Barksdale Air Force Base and down to the southern part of the parish, most restaurants are smaller and local, or of the drive-through, fast-food variety.
There are grocery stores such as Kroger, Brookshire’s and a neighborhood Walmart, plus gas stations, car washes and dollar stores. But there’s nothing quite comparable to the ongoing activity around Beene Boulevard in north Bossier.
“South Bossier is growing at a slower rate than north Bossier,” MPC Director Sam Marsiglia previously told The Times. “North Bossier, and we say the Benton Road-Airline Drive corridor, particularly Airline Drive, about 60 percent of our growth is in that area.”
Imagine a developer looking at a map and placing the needle of a protractor at Jimmie Davis Highway and Barksdale Boulevard, then drawing a circle, Rockett said.
The population contained in that circle would be less than if you were to move the protractor over to Youree Drive — just a few miles away — and to draw a circle from there.
“A developer is going to look at where they can reach maximum density from customers,” Rockett said. “So the western edge of Bossier from Barksdale Boulevard and a small sliver going up against the base, those are good numbers. They’re able to take those numbers and capture them still even if they move it over to the Shreveport side, and get more numbers, too.
“They want that shot at the most number of customers.”
Marsiglia echoed those sentiments.
“The restaurant people we have spoken to typically want to locate on Youree Drive as it can service the south Bossier area also,” he said.
On the contrary, place the same protractor at I-220 and Airline Drive, and developers can also capture the north Caddo Parish market, Rockett said.
“There’s a good number of the north Caddo population that travels over to north Bossier for shopping and activity, versus the same thing in south Bossier into Caddo,” Rockett said. “It’s almost a diagonal flux between the two.”
Developers have to consider numerous factors when looking where to build, Glorioso said, including land mass and location.
“They’re driving (south Bossier) and looking to see what available space is there, and the proximity to south Shreveport and Youree Drive is just right over the bridge,” she said. “We feel that’s why a lot of these developers are not looking to build there.”
For example, Glorioso said, when a restaurant like Applebee’s is looking to build a new restaurant, what would they consider when they look at U.S. 71/Barksdale Boulevard?
“Well, there’s one already there on Bert Kouns, so can they support it?” she asked. “You look for the cost of construction, operation, sales to keep the doors open — that’s what they look at.”
While development continues to expand north, to where there could soon be little separation between Bossier City and Benton, that same activity is hindered further south into the parish, Rockett said.
The reason, he said, is that oil and gas development has made many properties down that way unusable because of the number of wellheads and pipelines.
“South Bossier for all intents and purposes may not be able to be fully developed from a land perspective because of that,” Rockett said. “Haynesville Shale was a godsend, and here we are 10-12 years later, now what do we do? We have pipelines and wellheads all out there. Now they’re starting to pick back up in activity, but that’s kind of rendered a lot of those properties unusable for a pretty long period of time.”
Glorioso also previously noted to The Times that the cost of bringing infrastructure to a large part of south Bossier Parish would be high.
“There’s no water, there’s no sewer, there’s no roads at this point into those areas,” she said. “North Bossier, the infrastructure is there.”
Even so, south Bossier City is not stagnant in growth — it just looks different than what is going on further north.
Land owned by U.L. Coleman Companies on Walker Place near the CenturyLink Center is ripe for development, and people are still moving in and building houses in new parts of south Bossier.
The Preserve, a planned subdivision off Barksdale Boulevard and Sunflower Road, is expected to bring more than 330 new homes over the next 10 years. Victoria Meadows and Beauclaire are also newer communities being developed off Barksdale Boulevard
“That’s probably about as far in the city proper you’ll see new houses be built,” Glorioso said about the southern part of the city. “There will be more in-fill maybe, some smaller areas, but it’s very limited where homes can go or where businesses can go.”