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LSU’s Tiger Stadium Is the Best College Football Stadium in U.S.

11 Jul 2014, 8:10 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

LSU’s Tiger Stadium is known throughout the nation as the most difficult place for a visiting team to play. It’s scary, it’s loud and, according to a poll recently conducted by Athlon Sports, it’s also the best college football stadium in the United States, with the best game-day atmosphere.

The stadium opened on Nov. 5, 1924. At that time, it had only 12,000 seats. Over the years, the stadium underwent several renovation and expansion projects, and, last season, its official seating capacity was 92,542, making it the eighth largest on-campus stadium in the NCAA and the 18th largest stadium in the world.

Death Valley is currently undergoing another expansion project. At a cost of $75 million, the renovation started in 2012, and it is scheduled for completion this summer. The project calls for the construction of 24 suites, a 3,000-seat club section, 1,500 in regular seating and 400 to 600 in standing room only. It will increase the stadium’s capacity to about 100,000, making it the seventh largest on-campus college football stadium in the NCAA.

Athlon Sports has asked 15 college football experts to help rank the best college football stadiums and game day atmospheres in the nation. LSU’s Tiger Stadium easily outpaced the competition. Death Valley was on all but two of the 15 ballots, receiving the most first place votes, seven. It was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 on 11 of the 15 ballots. Ohio State’s Horseshoe came in on second place, with Oregon’s Autzen Stadium finishing on third.

Photo credits: www.lsusports.net

Skanska Signs On to $100M LSU College of Engineering Renovation and Expansion

25 Jun 2014, 9:57 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Skanska has announced that Skanska USA Building has signed a contract to renovate and expand Patrick F. Taylor Hall on the Louisiana State University (LSU) main campus in Baton Rouge.

Skanska will head the project as part of a joint venture with MAPP Construction. It holds a 70 percent share of the contract at a value of $54 million (SEK 350 million). The company will include the contract in the 2014 Q2 order bookings.

Expansion work on the 301, 390-square-foot facility is expected to start in November 2014 and will add 129,166 square feet of classroom, lab and office space as well as a new auditorium. Renovation work is expected to kick off in January 2015 and will entail reconfiguring and updating existing space in the three-story building. The project is expected to complete in June 2017.

The 1977-built educational facility is home to LSU’s College of Engineering. As previously reported, the expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall will also house a brand new chemical engineering facility, which is expected to be completed by June 2016, while the renovation work will finish in October 2017. Global architecture and design firm Perkins + Will and Baton Rouge-based Coleman Partners Architects LLC are handling design and architecture on the project.

Financing for the $100 million public-private partnership project is covered through $50 million in state capital outlay funding, while an additional $50 million had to be raised by LSU through private donations. As of mid-February 2014, LSU had raised $52.5 million or 5 percent above its targeted funding goal from individual and corporate donors, reported Commercial Property Executive.

Image courtesy of LSU College of Engineering

Dantin Bruce Moves Forward with Second Phase, 36-Unit Condo Development

11 Jun 2014, 7:39 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

333 Lofts

Baton Rouge, La.-based Dantin Bruce Development will be breaking ground this month on 333 Flats, a 36-unit condo development on East Boy Drive, reported the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. The $7 million project represents the second phase of the $5.5 million 333 Lofts, a 28-unit adjacent condo development which opened in August 2012 and sold out within 10 months.

While phase one only featured two- and three-bedroom condos, phase two will also feature studio and one-bedroom apartments, due to high buyer interest in the smaller layouts. Selling prices in the new development will start at $145,000 for studios and go north of $300,000 for three-bedroom units.  Amenities will include a courtyard with outdoor seating, fire pits and TV and controlled access. The project will feature an industrial-type design similar to the first phase. 333 Flats is expected to complete in summer 2015. Also in 2015 the developer also plans to break ground on a 150-unit apartment complex across the street from the condo project.

In other multifamily news, Baton Rouge developer Mike Wampold has filed a plan review application with the city-parish Department of Public Works for the $30 million apartment project he is looking to develop near Louisiana State University, on Stanford Avenue, reported the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. Wampold’s plans entail building a 241-unit, four-story apartment complex on the site of One Lakeshore Place, a former student housing complex that was demolished in early 2014 to make way for the new project. Wampold’s new apartment building would feature 434,000 square feet of high-end housing that will target students as well as other renters.

Image credits: 333 Lofts at East Boyd via Facebook

Gulf Coast Housing, Mid City Opens $7.1M Affordable Townhomes Project

29 May 2014, 3:15 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Belt Line Townhomes

The Louisiana Housing Corp. (LHC) recently celebrated the grand opening of the Belt Line Townhomes affordable housing project.

Located along Gayosa Street in Baton Rouge, across from developer Gulf Coast Housing Partnership’s North Street site, the 32-unit project comprises two- and three-bedroom townhomes in a 50-50 percent makeup. Four units are set aside as designated permanent supportive housing.

The project also includes an abandoned 9,000-square-foot warehouse, which was redeveloped into a community center opened for residents as well as the entire mid-city community.

Developed and owned by the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, in partnership with Mid City Redevelopment Alliance the project cost $7.1 million. It benefited from a $1.4 million investment from the Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit. The Unit is a part of the state’s Affordable Rental program, created in the wake of the destruction caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

“This kind of development helps families with lower or modest incomes find safe and sustainable homes that they can afford, while also restoring some of the state’s lost rental stock. The addition of Permanent Supportive Housing units will help renters who need extra assistance to live independently in the community,” said LHC Executive Director Fredrick Tombar III.

In other affordable housing news, the 102-unit Palmer-Northway Apartments in North Baton Rouge is set to undergo a $4.3 million rehabilitation and upgrade, which will reconfigure the development into 92 units of superior quality. According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report further work will include a 4,000-square-foot expansion, the addition of an 80-foot privacy fence and gate and the installation of up to 40 security cameras.

Renamed Choctaw Lodge, the project will serve as affordable housing administered through the Louisiana Housing Corp. The project is helmed by Ruston, La.-based Our Plan B Inc. which handled similar projects throughout Louisiana. While renovations will cost $4.3 million, the entire acquisition and rehab will hit the $7.5 million mark, $2.5 million of which will be covered by tax credits and an additional $3 million will be covered via grants. Following its summer 2015 completion, Choctaw Lodge is expected to help reduce crime in the area.

Image via Gulf Coast Housing Partnership

Hotel Market Picks Up in Baton Rouge

15 May 2014, 4:38 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Night view of Baton Rouge from Mississippi River

GTM Hospitality LLC and LIG Assets Inc. (LIGA) have announced the acquisition of the 81-unit Wyndham Baton Rouge Hotel for an undisclosed amount.

The property has a unique financial structure that includes LIG Assets Inc.  Financing for the purchase was provided through The Bancorp Bank, while advisory services were provided through New York-based Meridian Capital.

The property offers easy access to the up-and-coming downtown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University and Tiger Stadium. The hotel benefits from the market’s higher education industry as well as the oil and gas industry and the transient, group and long-term contract business afforded by these .

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham on Rieger Road was purchase for a little over $5 million by a group of investors operating as LIG Assets Inc. from in Panama City, Fla. While LIGA is based in Dallas, GTM Hospitality is based in Panama City. The Rieger Road Property is one of three Microtel Inn & Suites-branded hotels in Baton Rouge. It offers amenities such as an outdoor pool, grill area and business center.

GTM Hospitality is a fully integrated management and development company, while LIGA is a publicly traded real estate company.  The two entities plan to partner on future acquisitions as well.

In other hospitality news, local real estate developer Mike Wampold is looking to gut and redevelop the 12-story former state office building at 150 N. Third Street into a 146-key hotel, reports The Times-Picayune.  Wampold has applied for state incentives for the project, citing that the average downtown Baton Rouge room rate of $125 per night would not be enough to cover the yet-to-be-disclosed development costs. If approved, construction on the former Louisiana National Bank headquarters would start by the end of the year and finish before 2015 is out, reported The Advocate.

If the State Senate approves the request, a special tax increment financing district dubbed Old LNB Building Redevelopment District would be created around the future hotel. Three other downtown hotels benefited from similar measures.

Downtown Baton Rouge currently has 820 hotel rooms. Wampold’s project, paired with an 89-key Holiday Inn Express set to open in the former Baton Rouge Savings & Loan building by the end of the year, would push that number to 1,000. According to several reports, the additional hotel capacity would result in an increase in convention business.

According to The Times-Picayune’s coverage, Mike Wampold purchased the building for an undisclosed amount in February, after earlier this year the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) paid $10.25 million for it. At the time of the purchase, Wampold had declared that he would place the future development under the ownership of his Milford Wampold Charitable Foundation with all profits feeding into the foundation.

Image credit: getmahesh via Wikimedia Commons

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