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Costco Opens $38M Location, Spurring CRE Activity Nearby

30 Apr 2014, 10:31 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Membership warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp. has opened its newest U.S. location. The $38 million, 149,000-square-foot store on Airline Boulevard in Baton Rouge, is the company’s second foray into the Louisiana retail market, after opening a $40 million, 148,000-square-foot store in New Orleans, reports The Times-Picayune.

The new Baton Rouge retail warehouse location includes a bakery, fresh deli, food court, gas station, pharmacy and independent optometrist. As previously reported, the new Costco was developed on 15 of the 28 acres of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant. The 345,000-square-foot bottling facility was demolished, reported 225 Baton Rouge. The demolition was executed by T.D. Farell Construction, the company also in charge of building both the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Costco locations.

According to The Times-Picayune, the new store will employ 250, evenly split between full- and part-time employees. Although generally well received, some controversy surrounded the development, due to Baton Rouge metro council’s approving up to $7.8 million in tax breaks for the project. The New Orleans store received up to $3.3 million in tax breaks to cover site elevation and flood mitigation expenses.

In other retail news, Donnie Jarreau secured a 10,000-square-foot lease contract with Dollar Tree for a new retail development on City Center Plaza on Coursey Boulevard, near the newly opened Costco, reports the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Dubbed City Center Plaza, the 26,000-square-foot development expects to sign another national brand for its remaining space due to its proximity to Costco and being shadow-anchored by Home Depot. Broker Donnie Jareau is the CEO of Donnie Jarreau Companies, which include Donnie Jarreau Real Estate Inc.

Image courtesy of Costco via Facebook

Cole Capital Buys Office Building for $15.5M; Local Investors Pick Up Shopping Center for $10.5M

16 Apr 2014, 5:15 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Cole Capital has recently heated up the Baton Rouge commercial real estate market with two significant purchases.

Most recently, Cole Corporate Income Trust (CCIT), a public, non-listed REIT investing in necessity corporate properties, has acquired the 125,000-square-foot American Tire Distributors facility, The Advocate reports. CCIT, a program of Cole Capital, purchased the office-warehouse property for $9.3 million from Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties, the asset’s developer.

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the build-to-suit developer recently completed the asset. It features 4,700 square feet of offices, while the rest of the space is warehouse/industrial.  Scanell purchased the 12-acre site in May 2013 with the intent to develop a space for American Tire Distributors, whose previous 65,000-square-foot  location in a shared a building had grown inadequate.

Cole Capital also purchased the 65,000-square-foot CB&I office building at 2370 Towne Center Boulevard recently. According to The Advocate’s coverage, the Phoenix-based REIT bought the asset from seller Alsation Land Co. Baton Rouge, paying $15.5 million. NAI/Latter & Blum and Colliers International were involved in brokering the deal. The eponymous office building is fully let by CB&I on a long-term lease.

In further commercial news, the 140,000-square-foot Drusilla Shopping Center at Jefferson Highway and Drusilla Lane has been sold for $10.5 million, The Advocate reports. The shopping center was purchased by a group of investors led by Donnie Jarreau from Garry Lewis, who had owned the asset since 1999.  The new owners are set to spend $2 million on renovations and upgrades. The property will also be renamed Drusilla Village with multiple new tenants lined up for the currently 90 percent occupied retail center. Donnie Jarreau Real estate brokered the deal.

Image via Google Maps

Baton Rouge Achieves LEED Silver with $28M The High Grove Luxury Apartments

3 Apr 2014, 6:15 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

New Orleans- and New York-headquartered The Domain Companies has announced the LEED Silver certification of The High Grove, making the 192-unit development the first luxury apartment project in Baton Rouge to achieve such a status.

“From day one, we’ve been dedicated to bringing green, sustainable design and construction to The High Grove,” says Chris Papamichael, co-founder of The Domain Companies. “LEED Silver Certification means energy and cost savings for our residents, recognition for the larger Baton Rouge community, and a reduced impact to the environment.

Green features at The High Grove, include solar panels that cover 15 to 20 percent of the community’s energy needs, Energy Star appliances, water efficient fixtures, 90 percent efficiency hot water heaters, reflective roof materials to reduce the heat island effect, 14.5 SEER AC systems, water-conservative landscaping. Special attention was accorded to indoor air quality. Overall, the environmentally conscious features make The High Grove 22 percent more energy efficient than comparable buildings and account for three percent of the $28 million construction budget.

According to Papamichael the local population has proven very receptive to green community.

“The Baton Rouge market understands the benefits LEED Silver Certification provides, both to the bottom line and to the environment as a whole,” he tells MHN, adding that Domain’s hope is that The High Grove will serve as an example for future residential projects.

The success of the community, expected to be fully leased by late May, paired with the surging economy of Louisiana, has prompted Domain to plan further investments in the Baton Rouge market.

“Domain is very excited about the opportunities in Baton Rouge, and specifically within The Grove, a 119-acre master-planned Traditional Neighborhood Development. We’re currently planning our next phase at The Grove, which we believe will further the success we’ve achieved with The High Grove and within the Baton Rouge marketplace,” Papamichael says.

Located in The Grove, across from the Mall of Louisiana, The High Grove comprises one- and two-bedroom apartments, live/work spaces and 25,000 square feet of retail space dubbed The Boutiques at The High Grove.  Developed by The Domain Companies, the community was built by general contractor ICI Construction of Dallas. Also from Dallas was project architect Humphreys and Partners as well as Oak Grove Capital, which provided a $23 million loan for the project through HUD’s 221D4 program, while the remaining $5 million was covered by private equity.

Amenities at luxury community include, among many, a resort-style pool,  indoor and outdoor fireplaces, fitness center, yoga studio, cybercafé,  chef’s kitchen, game room with Wii, a Building Link system that notifies residents of packages, dry cleaning, and valet services as well as a unique “MyDomain” social media-based platform for online rent payment, maintenance requests, home design services, residents’ event calendar and a discount card for a bevy of local businesses. The community is also adjacent to a new public bike path set to finish soon. Apartment amenities include everything from granite countertops and high-end appliances to walk-in closets and full-size washer and dryers. Rents start at $1,025 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,495 for a two-bedroom apartment.

The retail component of The High Grove is pedestrian friendly, featuring wide sidewalks and outdoor seating. Initial tenants include Woodhouse Spa and Open Barre fitness center, with additional food/beverage and services retailers expected to move in throughout 2014.

As previously reported by MHN, the community started welcoming its first residents in October 2013. The Domain Companies is also developing the $200 million South Market mixed-use residential retail project in downtown New Orleans (details here).

Images courtesy of The Domain Companies

Investors Buy Condominiums; Housing Authority Embarks on Renovation

24 Mar 2014, 5:26 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Roosevelt Terrace apartments, a 44-year-old low-income housing complex under the ownership of the East Baton Rouge (EBR) Housing Authority, will soon kick off renovations worth $3.67 million, reports the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.  The project is being handled by Partners for Progress, the not-for-profit subsidiary of the EBR Housing Authority and is set to kick off in April.

The project will update amenities, reconfigure the 50-unit housing complex to feature 40 larger units and raise a wrought iron fence. According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report 20 one-bedroom units will be turned into ten three-bedroomers, 20 two-bedroom apartments will be reconfigured into 20 one-bedroom apartments, while ten three-bedroom units will be converted into ten two-bedroom residences. Currently Roosevelt Terrace consist of nine two-story frame and brick veneer townhouse structures and an administration and maintenance building that also houses the laundry facilities. The apartment community is located on a two-acre site at 1225 Roosevelt St.

In other residential news, The Advocate reported that a group of investors purchased 33 condominiums in The Jeffersonian for $1.9 million from IberiaBank. Buyer K B K Real Estate plans to do some light renovation, such as new paint, on the former apartment building. Major work isn’t necessary as the 38-unit property underwent a more comprehensive renovation prior to being converted. Currently all units are being rented at $775 for a one-bedroom residence and $850 for a two-bedroom unit. The new owners plan to keep current rental rates.

Built around 40 years ago, the 38-unit Jeffersonian was converted from apartments to condominiums prior to the Great Recession, following which it ended up under bank ownership.

Image via the East Baton Rouge Housing Authority

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