Residents are attracted to Central because they enjoy a high quality of life in a city that offers the uncommon characteristics of a rural area less than 20 minutes from a bustling metropolis. Central is roughly the same geographic size as the city of Baton Rouge, but its population density is 10 percent of Louisiana's Capital City. Central recently contracted with GCR & Associates to provide a market feasibility analysis for future development. The analysis will help to serve elected officials and business leaders in planning for future growth. The study concludes that Central is poised for rapid population growth over the next decade and the households will enjoy a higher income which in turn will support a higher demand for community amenities, local retail and commercial options and services that currently are limited or aren't yet available. In addition, the study concludes that because of its highly desirable standard of living, Central will likely absorb a significant portion of the region's job growth as families will be attracted to all that the community has to offer. Managing that growth will be a doubleedged challenge. Central faces the prospect of preserving its country charm, while at the same time, creating a realistic vision for the inevitable demands the growth will bring. Over the next 10 years, the City of Central must focus on some key priorities, according to the GCR plan: • Create a sense that Central is a unique sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby metropolitan area; • Meet critical infrastructure needs by improving drainage, sewerage and transportation routes; • Facilitate a community growth strategy with consistent and realistic regulations; • Provide affordable housing for all income levels and age demographics; • Diversify employment options by increasing business opportunities; In the meantime, Central Remains a unique South Louisiana city with tremendous potential for greatness. A strong sense of civic pride runs deep in its friendly citizens, who are guided by an optimistic sense of purpose based on history, tradition and solid core values. N e i g h b o r h o o d s Central offers many options for residential real estate for every budget. The city has a mixture of new and established neighborhoods like Bridal Wood, Bellingrath Lakes, Comite Hills, Hampton Village, Morgan Springs, Oak Cluster, Village Lakes, Wisteria Lakes and Woodstock. Central is set to gets its first Traditional Neighborhood Development. The Village at Magnolia Square is a 185-acre walkable village with 510 homesites, a village square and such amenities as boutique shops, coffee shop, café/restaurant, specialty grocer, ponds and parks as well as other locally operated retail shops and professional office space. Magnolia Square also features a 30-acre-plus wooded preserve and a five-acre stocked lake for fishing and canoeing. According to 2009 statistics, the city of central issued 90 new home building permits, with a total value of roughly $24.3 million. The average price of a new single-family home in Central was almost $270,000, well above the average of $184,000 for East Baton Rouge Parish during the same time period. With the creation of Central's Land Use Plan - residents can look forward to new real estate developments throughout the city that will be consistent with its rural ambiance. Some areas will be designated for low-density neighborhoods, some medium and some high. Rec r eat i on Not only is Central a great place to live and work, but the abundance of natural habitat offers many opportunities for recreation. Central boasts many green areas that protect an abundance of wildlife. These areas contribute to the city's scenic beauty and create outdoor recreational opportunities that refresh both body and mind. Central's two major waterways - the Amite and Comite rivers - have inspired visitors and residents for generations. Tucked into the corner of Blackwater and Hooper Road is the Blackwater Conservation Area, a nature park that meanders alongside the Comite River. The 50-plus acres provide a riverside retreat with numerous fishing spots, walking trails interspersed throughout the pristine beauty. Through BREC's strategic plan, Imagine Your Parks, the new Central Community Sports Park off Hooper and Lovett Roads is under construction. The proposed complex includes a lake with a fishing pier, four large baseball fields and two smaller ones, a football field and multi-use practice field, nature trails, playground and other amenities. BREC also recently purchased nearly 500 acres located at The confluence of the Amite and Comite Rivers for a new conservation area. Once completed, the site will offer a variety of nature-based activities. Central also has accommodations for other recreational interests including the Palomino Tennis Courts and the Comite River Bike Trail on Hooper Road. There also several health facilities that offer workout options and classes. The Baton Rouge Zoo is just minutes away in Baker and features year-round entertainment for children and adults alike. Central received a large upgrade to its library in 2002 to accommodate the growing community. The more than 18,000-square-foot, state-ofthe- art facility houses public computers and a meeting room for 100 people along with its many volumes of books. The Central Branch Library, which is part of the EBR Parish library system, offers small business and career resources for residents. The library also provides many programs and services for its patrons including computer classes, exhibits, storytime for children and events like workshops and ACT review sessions for students. Community Ser v i ces Shoppers and dining options in Central abound, from a variety of locally owned stores to a number of established national chains. There are an abundance of places to spend an afternoon hunting for deals and bargains. A quick trip for groceries or staples is virtually just right around the corner. Dining options range from eclectic local eateries to popular restaurant chains and fast-food choices for either a quick meal on the go, or a leisurely lunch or dinner. C i v i c Invol vement Central residents enjoy participation in a variety of civic and charitable organizations including the Central Community Alliance Club, Central Lions Club, Eastern Star, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club and the recently formed Rotary Club. T h e Future Central's residents and business and civic leaders are taking a proactive role in managing the growth of their city, developing a master plan for the city to progress in way that will keep Central's identity intact. There are five consensus priorities for the master plan: conservation of open space, create city center, improve infrastructure, increase business opportunities and improve transportation routes. The plan is to continue developing Central by creating clusters for residential and commercial areas. The plan will leave some areas undeveloped such as flood plains and conservation areas. The center of town, near Hooper and Sullivan roads, will be an area for high density development to serve as a town center. The citizens of Central can look forward to a prosperous future. The Chamber of Commerce is actively working with the business community to provide opportunities as it continues to help build a great city.
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