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Colab Space The Creative Block Kicks Off Construction in Downtown Baton Rouge

7 Mar 2014, 1:18 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge continues with a trendy new spot: The Creative Bloc, an 11,500-square-foot collaborative workspace and multimedia production hub. The project, located at North Eighth and Main Street, recently started construction, helmed by businessman John Jackson and developer Fitch Development.

“The rehabilitation of these three historic buildings along with the recent construction of the Hampton Inn and the on-going construction of the IBM buildings, will revitalize Main Street again as a central corridor in downtown Baton Rouge,” says developer Derek Fitch.

The Creative Bloc consists of three consolidated historic commercial buildings dating from the 1930s and 1950s that sat vacant and blighted for a considerable time. They were purchased in January 2013 by Jackson Group Investments, an affiliate of video production company Launch Media, both owned by John Jackson. Upon completion of The Creative Block, Launch Media will relocate its headquarters and all ten employees from Celtic Media Center, while keeping 3,700 square feet of colab space for leasing, reported The Times-Picayune.

The development will comprise work and office spaces as well as multimedia facilities such as post-production suites, fully equipped sound and video production studio and media server. The project is targeting visual media and creative professionals and companies. According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, two to three companies with less than ten employees would be able to lease space next to Launch Media. A further ten workstations will be available for independent professionals, to be leased on a yearly, monthly or hourly basis.  A membership program with a maximum of 15 spots will be available for professionals who need sporadic access to downtown office space and amenities.

Although the cost and financing structure of the development has yet to be released, Launch Media did announce that the adaptive reuse project will be receiving federal and state historic preservation tax credits. Which presented project architects Tipton Associates with a special task: “Our goal has been to retain the historic character of the buildings while embedding within the required modern technological amenities”, declared Ken Tipton, principal.

Renderings courtesy of Tipton Associates and Launch Media 



$29M Digital Media Center Dedicated at LSU; Charter School Buys New HQ Building for $1.6M

26 Feb 2014, 3:54 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Gov. Bobby Jindal, EA Executive Bryan Neider and LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander officially dedicate the LSU Digital Media Center

The Louisiana digital technology sector celebrated yet another boost with the official dedication of the Louisiana Digital Media Center in Baton Rouge. The $29.3 million project, located on Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Main Campus, now provides 94,000 square feet of high tech space, housing both commercial and education tenants.  The $26.3 million in construction funding was provided by State of Louisiana capital outlay dollars, with an additional $3 million infrastructure grant made available by the U.S Economic Development Authority.

LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology (CCT) and LSU’s Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) program represent the facility’s university tenants.  The CCT will house about 190 faculty, staff and students, providing state-of-the-art audio-visual teaching facilities supporting LSU’s digital media and software development research on 50,000 square feet of space. The AVATAR initiative brings in an additional 200 students per week to the Digital Media Center.

The project’s main commercial tenant is Electronic Arts Inc. (EA). The company set up its North American Test Center (NATC) in the facility, taking up 30,000 square feet of space. EA’s initial plans of creating 220 full- and part-time jobs with an annual payroll of $5.7 million have been exceeded and the company plans to grow into the 400 to 600 job range.

In other education news, online charter school Louisiana Connections Academy (LCA) has purchased the Parkview Office Building on Jamestown Ave., where it plans to relocate its operations, reports The Advocate. Operating under the name Friends of Louisiana Connections Academy, the charter school’s board acquired the 80 percent occupied office building for $1.6 million from Abdul and Maimoona Khan. LCA will take up residence on fourth floor, which will provide about 8,000 square feet.

Image courtesy of Louisiana State University



LSU College of Engineering Exceeds $100M Funding Goal, Gears Up for $350KSF Overhaul

12 Feb 2014, 7:13 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Gov. Bobby Jindal with LSU College of Engineering students

The Louisiana State University (LSU) College of Engineering has announced the successful completion of the Breaking New Ground capital campaign, wrapping up three months ahead of schedule and 5 percent above its targeted funding goal, with $52.5 million raised from 450 individual and corporate donors. The raised capital will be put towards covering LSU’s share of a $100 million public-private partnership set to renovate the College of Engineering’s Patrick F. Taylor Hall, as well as expand teaching facilities with a brand new chemical engineering building, as previously reported by Commercial Property Executive.

The project is a result of a booming demand for engineering jobs in Louisiana. According to LSU’s data, engineering and construction management jobs in Louisiana are expected to grow by 40 percent between 2010 and 2020, numbers that are reflected in LSU’s College of Engineering enrollment, which grew by 41 percent between 2008 and 2012. Upon completion, 1,150 engineers, construction managers and computer scientists are expected to graduate from the school annually.

Patrick F. Taylor Hall rendering

Construction will kick off in the fall off of 2014 with groundbreaking on the new chemical engineering building, which is expected to complete in June 2016. The adjacent Patrick F. Taylor Hall will start renovation and expansion in July 2015 and complete by October 2017. The project will affect 350,000 square feet of academic space, 90,000 square feet of which is represented by newly constructed teaching and research space. Global architecture and design firm Perkins + Will and Baton Rouge-based Coleman Partners Architects LLC have been selected to overhaul the engineering campus, which will boast an academic support center, dedicated capstone project space and graduate student space and expanded, up-to-date laboratory space, among others.

Twenty-two private companies, such as Dow, Entergy and BASF contributed to the fundraising – 20 of them donating over the $1 million mark. Some of the most notable donations included a $5 million pledge from Turner industries and a $15 million donation from Phyllis Taylor. The state’s $50 million contribution will be provided from state capital outlay funds. As announced by Gov. Bobby Jindal in October 2012, the state will also match all private donations dollar for dollar above the $50 million mark.

Images courtesy of LSU College of Engineering



94-Unit Apartment Asset Sold to California Hedge Fund; 440 on Third Starts Construction

15 Jan 2014, 7:39 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Black Warrior LLC has sold Newport Villa Apartments, a 94-unit apartment complex located on La Annie Drive, north of Florida Boulevard, cashing in $1.2 million or $12,765 per unit for the asset, according to a report by Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. CJ Johnson of 3Chix Realty represented both the seller and the buyer, a California-based hedge fund operating as Newport Holdings LLC. Originally listed for $1.8 million, the 90 percent occupied property had four interested buyers within a month of going on the market.

Newport Apartments underwent some capital outlay rehab work prior to going up for sale. The seller has only recently picked up the property from a bank. The complex reportedly had management issues and reverted to bank ownership due to non-payment. After acquisition, Black Warrior contracted Reliant Property Management, which specializes in streamlining distressed assets. The company quickly smoothed out previous issues and the asset is now projecting a 14 percent cap rate—double what similar assets boast.

In other multifamily news, preliminary construction work has kicked off at the 440 on Third, one of the most anticipated projects in Baton Rouge, reports The Times-Picayune. The eight-story building will first undergo internal demolition such as knocking out some of its internal walls. Some of the demolition byproducts will be reused, as the project is targeting LEED certification. The former office building is to be transformed into a mixed-use development featuring 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments with amenities such as an outdoor pool and deck, a 15,000-square-foot Matherne’s Supermarket grocery store (downtown Capital City’s first grocery store in 50 years), 50,000 square feet of office space and more than 100 parking spaces. DNA Workshop (Dyke Nelson Architecture LLC) is acting as developer and architecture company, while Buquet & LeBlanc Inc. is general contractor. The asset was purchased in mid-2013 for $4.3 million by a group of local investors headed by David Weinstein, a Baton Rouge financial adviser at Merril Lynch and Dyke Nelson, owner of DNA Workshop. The grocery store will open during fall 2014, while the residential component is expected for January 2015.

Click here for further Baton Rouge market data

Image courtesy of the Downtown Development District

 



$21M Shopping Center Sale and Downtown Grocery Store Announcement Heat Up Baton Rouge Retail Market

20 Dec 2013, 10:19 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Shopping center sales, new retail developments, including a downtown option – Baton Rouge has recently seen them all.

Probably one of the most exciting announcements came from the Downtown Development District, touting, that for the first time in over half a century, Downtown Baton Rouge will feature a grocery store. With recent developments in the Capital City’s urban core, especially multifamily developments going up and/or replacing derelict office buildings, the search for a downtown grocer has been on for quite a while.

Cue the Matherne family, who has announced a 15,000-square-foot full-service supermarket for the first floor of the former Capital One building. Construction is slated to start within a few weeks’ time. Upon completion, the supermarket will offer fresh produce, fine wines and cheeses and a deli, among others.  The eight-story former office building, now renamed 440 Third Street is currently being redeveloped by the Matherne family. The mixed-use project will feature 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 50,000 square feet of office space and more than 100 parking spaces.

In other retail news, The Advocate announced the sale of the Bluebonnet Parc Shopping Center for $21.3 million. The shopping center adjacent to the Mall of Louisiana was sold by RPAI Baton Rouge LLC, an affiliate of national self-managed REIT Retail Properties of America Inc. to Cincinnati-based Viking Partners’ Fund II. The approximately 135,000-square-foot retail center could get a 15,000-square-foot expansion. A bevy of new tenants are also expected, as several major tenants, such as Cost Plus World Market and Vanguard College of Cosmetology are expected to relocate in 2014.

In further news, Belk Inc. has announced plans to establish a 75,000-square-foot store in the Juban Crossing shopping center in Livingston Parish, according to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal. Construction on the $7 million store is expected to kick off in February and complete in fall 2014.

Click here for further Baton Rouge Market data

Rendering courtesy of Juban Crosing via Facebook and the Downtown Development District

 



Stirling Properties Expands Holdings in United Plaza Office Park

5 Dec 2013, 12:12 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Stirling Properties has led a group of local investors in purchasing United Plaza VIII, a three-story Class A office building located in the United Plaza Office Park in Baton Rouge, La. Operating as Stirling Eight United Plaza LLC, the Stirling-led investment group, represented by Stirling Sales and Leasing Executive Scott Macdonald picked up the property from Wink United Plaza LLC in late November. The seller was represented by Branon Pesnell of Beaux Box, a Louisiana-based commercial real estate firm. The 52,606-square-foot office building is currently 91 percent leased. Stirling Properties has announced it will exclusively lease and manage the new asset.

United Plaza VIII is Stirling’s fourth asset in the office park. The company also owns United Plaza I, II and XII, totaling more than 500,000 square feet. Combined with the newest purchase, the company’s United Plaza Office Park holdings boast an overall occupancy rate of 97 percent and are exclusively managed and leased by Stirling Properties.  Executive Vice President of Stirling Propertie,s Grady Brame, described the purchase as a “tremendous opportunity” in a strong performing market, adding that “the acquisition … is an excellent investment … and demonstrates Stirling’s commitment to Baton Rouge and our belief in the area’s future growth.”

The acquisition price has not been disclosed. However, The Advocate reports that the purchase price included assuming two existing loans as well as other considerations. The same source also identified Willbros Engineering as the primary tenant of United Plaza VIII.  Stirling plans to rearrange the locations of certain tenants within the buildings it owns onsite.

For further Baton Rouge market data, click here

Image courtesy of Stirling Properties



Landmark Properties to Develop $50M Student Luxury Housing

20 Nov 2013, 11:58 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

There’s more luxury student housing on its way to Baton Rouge. Athens, Ga.-based Landmark Properties has received the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval—the last OK needed—to develop its $50 million luxury multifamily property near the LSU campus, according to a report by The Advocate.  The 274-unit luxury property, dubbed The Standard at Baton Rouge, is expected to break ground in the spring and could open in August 2014.

Upscale amenities will abound at the property, including a rooftop pool, three interior courtyards and onsite parking. Although most area residents and businesses welcome the project, developers have expresses their desire to address the concerns of reluctant residents.

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, The Standard will be developed on a 4.5-acre block bounded by West Chimes, Alaska, Aster and Iowa streets, right on the edge of Louisiana State University’s campus and Nicholson Drive and its planned overhaul (read more about it here).

The 750,685-square-foot project includes a six-story parking garage, five-story apartment building, 1,000-square-foot leasing office as well as a ground-level pool, in addition to the rooftop pool. The Standard will comprise 36 one-bedroom units, 81 two-bedroom bedroom units, 33 three-bedroom units, 80 units with four bedrooms and 44 five-bedroom units.

The Standard of Athens (Athens, Georgia)

According to The Times-Picayune, Williams and Associates is representing Landmark. The company, also based in Athens, Ga. offers civil engineering, surveying, economic development, planning and landscaping and development consultation services and is heavily involved in the development of a similar projects including The Standard of Athens, near the University of Georgia.  The Standard of Athens comprises 190 units totaling 610 beds and amenities such as a clubhouse, fitness center, infinity rooftop pool and outdoor community spaces.

For further Baton Rouge market data, click here

Image credits: Williams and Associates



$28M Luxury Housing Opens in Baton Rouge

10 Oct 2013, 7:55 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The High Grove, the first mixed-use, environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented development in Baton Rouge is going live.

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, residents have started moving into the first building at the $28 million luxury residential-retail project located near the Mall of Louisiana, off I-10.  The second building is expected to be complete in November.

The 192-unit project comprises one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments ranging between 681 and 1,119 square feet. Rents range between $1,055 and $1,725. The community’s apartments feature high-end amenities such as stainless steel kitchen appliances, granite counter tops, hardwood cabinets and washer and dryer, while community amenities include a private garage and carports, resorts-style outdoor amenity area with pool, soaking deck, fireplace, as well as an outdoor kitchen with grilling station, outdoor covered lounge and media area, indoors gaming lounge complete with entertainment center, billiards, foosball, card table, a fitness center, yoga and Pilates studio, resident lounge with media center, kitchen and espresso bar as well as a cyber café, complete with printing station.

The High Grove is targeting a LEED Silver certification. Its green features include Energy Star-rated lighting and appliances, high-efficiency HVAC systems, low-flow water fixtures as well as solar panels mounted atop garages, which will cut energy consumption by 30 percent, according to The Advocate’s coverage. The High Grove’s ground floors feature 25,330 square feet of upscale boutique retail, and about one-fifth of that commercial space has already been taken up by a spa and a boutique fitness studio. The first phase of The High Grove was expected to open earlier this year, in May.

According to property.com, financing for the project breaks down to $5 million in private equity and $23 million through a HUD 221(d)4 loan, arranged by Oak grove Capital in Dallas. The project also benefits from federal solar tax credits.

Developed by The Domain Cos., the company behind the $200 million South Market mixed-use residential-retail project in downtown New Orleans (read more about the project here), The High Grove is part of the 118-acre The Grove traditional neighborhood development (TND). First of its kind in Baton Rouge, the project is spearheaded by Carmouche Development, a local company well-versed in the TND and master-planned community game. When complete, the TND will include luxury rental housing, senior housing, for-sale single family homes, a full-service hotel, office space, cafes and restaurants and a bevy of retail outlets and specialty shops. An excess of 44 acres of The Grove will be comprised of parks and pathways connecting to BREC’s Capital Area Pathways Project.

For further Baton Rouge market data click here

Image courtesy of The High Grove via Facebook 

 



$55M IBM Project Holds Groundbreaking; Shell Teases $12.5B GTL Facility

26 Sep 2013, 6:19 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Prior to the groundbreaking of IBM’s 800-job Baton Rouge project, the Louisiana Governor’s Office announced the selection of Ascension Parish as the potential site for a 740-job Shell facility.

According to the Governor’s Office, the Mississippi shores near Sorrento, La. could be the location of a Shell natural gas to liquids (GTL) facility if site evaluation and preliminary engineering studies yield positive results.

The facility would be one of the first GTL sites built on a commercial scale in the US. If it gets a green light, the project would cost about $12.5 billion, create 740 direct jobs that would pay an average of $100,000 plus benefits, as well as 3,900 indirect jobs, and at peak development activity could generate 10,000 construction jobs. The construction period and first 15 years of activity would have a $77.6 billion economic impact.

Shell would cover the $32 million worth of road improvements necessary for the facility and would also be eligible for a full refund by the state if the facility is developed.

Improvements are expected to be completed by 2016, which includes construction and development of new roads, as well as lane expansions of portions of Louisiana Highways 22 and 70. Other incentives include a $112 million performance-based grant for land acquisition and infrastructure expenses, access to LED FastStart, Louisiana’s chart-topping workforce training program.

With regards to the IBM Services Center, the project is set for a September 26 ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony, according to a report by The Advocate.

As reported by CPE earlier this year, the $55 million riverfront project will be developed in two phases. The first comprises a $30.5 million, eight-story office building, set to finish by spring 2015, while a second residential element, set to complete by the summer of 2016, consists of a 95-unit 11-story apartment tower and nine townhomes.

The Advocate reports the acquisition of the project site, incidentally the former location of The Advocate’s offices, has just closed. Lafayette Street Holdings, a company under the control of the nonprofit Wilbur Marvin Foundation, which handles real estate assets of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, paid $4.1 million for the asset.

The IBM Services Center is Louisiana’s largest software development project to date.

Rendering courtesy of the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District



LSU Health Baton Rouge Opens New Urgent Care in Capital Region

11 Sep 2013, 10:57 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

A new urgent care medical facility is available for residents of the Capital Region. Located on Airline Highway in North Baton Rouge, the new LSU Health Baton Rouge Urgent Care Center in North Baton Rouge has opened for patients as an alternative to hospital emergency rooms.

LSU’s urgent care services have been housed at a temporary location since its inception in April 2013, and the new location represents a space increase of 6,965 square feet.

Urgent care centers offer round-the-clock medical care for minor injuries and illness, which helps to minimize patient load at hospital emergency rooms.

The Airline Highway location is part of LSU Health Baton Rouge, a division of Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Regional Medical Center, operated by a partnership with Louisiana State University, which was created as a substitute to replacing the outdated Earl K. Long facility’s clinic services. The program is comprised of five clinics and pharmacy services and is also part of Louisiana’s historic public-private hospital partnership system.

The new urgent care facility and partnership with LSU allowed OLOL to expand its emergency room, earning it Level II Trauma Center status, which is the only such facility in the Capital Region.

According to a news release OLOL is now working towards earning a Level I Trauma Center accreditation. The facility features new amenities, such as a special procedures room, increased point-of-care testing space and digital x-ray.

This is not the only expansion for OLOL. The medical center is now the clinical site for LSU’s Baton Rouge-based physician training and graduate medical education programs, which hosts 190 residents per month and is set to increase.

Furthermore, OLOL is set to open its 120-bed Heart and Vascular Tower this fall on the main OLOL medical campus on Essen Lane.

The 330,000-square-foot, nine-story facility will be the main provider of an expansive range of cardiovascular services in the Baton Rouge area. It will feature state-of-the-art technology, open spaces, large windows, and visitor and seating areas with above-average comfort.

Also set for a fall 2013 opening is OLOL’s $19 million medical educational building that will house a simulation and innovation center equipped with groundbreaking technology, conference rooms and LSU faculty offices.

Image courtesy of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center via Facebook