Downtown continues to grow

Published 11:14 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017

Any longtime resident that took a tour of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Thursday probably couldn’t help but smile as they walked through the lobby and saw the guest rooms for the first time.

The biggest smile though, had to be reserved for the view from one of the top floors of the new structure. Many guests at the hotel have a tremendous view of downtown LaGrange and can see the city’s signature fountain and Marquis de Lafayette statue from an angle never possible before.

But it’s not just the view that hits home.

It’s that the potential city leaders saw a long time ago is really turning into something. There are so many cities that have LaGrange’s same potential, where one big business moving to town would really make a difference. There are so many other locations with big ideas — well-planned ones — that never develop for one reason or another. The plans sound great, the potential is there, but somewhere in the process it all goes awry.

You cannot say that in LaGrange.

A few years ago, there was no downtown amphitheater in LaGrange. There wasn’t a brewery. A downtown hotel was a pipedream, lost somewhere in the abandoned Monsour’s building. Del’avant wasn’t around before the last decade. No work had started on The Thread.

A few years ago, LaGrange probably wasn’t a very attractive destination for a downtown hotel. There were still amenities — Hills & Dales, the Biblical History Center, Bellevue and the shops downtown will always draw crowds — but it was a very different downtown than it is today.

It was telling Wednesday when the Courtyard by Marriott sent out a press release to announce its opening and listed some of the downtown amenities, as any good business would do.

The company started with the amphitheater and Del’avant, which has already attracted so many wedding guests for 2018 that Courtyard is already making reservations for wedding parties.

It’s interesting to think about how different that press release would’ve read 10 years ago, or even five.

City leaders had a vision, and all of that potential has turned into results.

That’s never been more clear than it was Thursday, when another piece to LaGrange’s growing downtown opened its doors.