Abandoned downtown store slated to undergo demolition

John Dupont
Demolition will soon begin on a building that most recently housed Kyle's Express convenience store. It has also served as a car dealership, and later as a food store/bait shop.

Demolition of an abandoned store in downtown Plaquemine could eventually pave the way for improvements to the area near the Plaquemine Depot Market.

Initial work has begun to raze the Kyle's Express building, which should help in several ways for the city, Mayor Edwin Reeves said Monday.

"We're planning for a landscaped parking lot and a covered area alongside the railroad tracks," he said. "We may possibly move the farmer's market that area."

The parking lot is not an immediate plan, Reeves said. But the impending demolition falls into place with a plan to beautify the city, one of his primary objectives when he became mayor.

The building – at least 70 years old – has been dormant several years and has become an eyesore for incoming traffic from La. 1 southbound just past Bayou Plaquemine.

"We're going to soften the blow coming into the city," Reeves said.

The Board of Selectmen approved a $100,000 purchase from property owner Kyle White. The deal came to fruition about a year after the city made its initial offer for the location.

The vacant building is adjacent to the Plaquemine Depot Market.

Crews from Iberville Parish government will remove the walls from the building. Excavation of the gasoline storage tanks will begin in January.

The city will receive design sketches for the project within a few weeks, Reeves said.

City officials will then seek grants to help pay for the project.

"We're seeking anything we can get," he said.

Reeves said he is also in talks with representatives from Union Pacific Railroad on a deal that would monetarily compensate Plaquemine for parking space the city will lose with the establishment of a quiet zone.

The abandoned store served more than 40 years as the location for Dickie's Sportsman, a grocery store and bait shop.

The building originally housed a Rambler car dealership in what was the first endeavor for Price LeBlanc who later expanded the auto sales business into Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes.