Architects Envision French Layout, Art Districts In Bay-Waveland Area

Rhode Island architect Bill Dennis had to rely on pre-Hurricane Katrina pictures and video when he envisioned what Bay St. Louis can be after the hurricane, starting with the neighborhoods.

"This is a five minute walking circle so that makes it right down into really nice units that people know their neighbors and then you can enhance services and schools and greenways and parkways and all that," says Dennis.

He says citizens want their town's historic layout enhanced.

"The history was a French layout where there were very, very long lots. Some of these blocks are a quarter mile long and at first we thought about putting streets through, but we said maybe that's not necessary. We suggested putting these little pathways to kind of wind their way through the blocks to have alternatives for kids and residents who live there to go through the neighborhood."

The designers also offered ideas for the Bay to build on its artistic influences. You'll find those elements too in Waveland's proposed blueprint.

New York architect John Massengale says, "That was part of the idea that we looked at on Coleman Avenue was galleries down below and artists being able to live and work in the same building. It seems like Coleman probably is in a flood zone, so you can have commercial on the ground floor more easily than you can have residential."

Architects say they're providing the vision, but the action is up to the cities.

"The challenge in Waveland is really for the town to decide what it's going to do about the areas that were so devastated. If they're going to adopt certain regulations and have to build way up on the street. If they're not going to adopt those and build lower to the ground, if they're going to give that area over to park land... We make recommendations but those are all up to the town," says Massengale.