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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 

$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


Over $1B Investment Planned for Capital Region’s Manufacturing Industry

31 Aug 2013, 6:27 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Dow Chemical Company has officially confirmed the locations of it future expansions and investments as Plaquemine, Louisiana and Freeport, Texas. Originally announced in March 2013, construction is expected to begin soon at both sites.

Governor Bobby Jindal and Dow Louisiana Operations Site Leader Eduardo Do Val also made the announcement, focusing on Dow’s Louisiana investments, worth $1.06 billion. The investment will be made at Dow’s Plaquemine site, located in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. The company currently occupies 3,300 acres at the Plaquemine location and part of the investment will include capital upgrades planned for the company’s existing operation. Two new plants will also be constructed onsite: one will manufacture high-performance polyethylene and another is set to produce next-generation synthetic rubber. The investment will retain all 1,380 workers employed at the site and add 71 direct new jobs with wages averaging a yearly $49,000 plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) also estimates the creation of 150 contractor jobs to support the future facilities, as well 1,200 construction jobs and 470 indirect workplaces. Development is expected to be completed in late 2016; however, most jobs will be filled in 2015.

LED began negotiations with the New York Stock Exchange-listed company in February of this year. Incentives provided for the petrochemical company helped secure the project and include a $2.84 million Modernization Tax-Credit spread over five years as well as the LED FastStart access—a state program that provides, free of cost, a trained and highly qualified and customized workforce on the first day of operations. Dow will most likely also access Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

Dow is Louisiana’s largest petrochemical company and provides employment for 6,000 people including direct Dow employees, as well as contractors. The company shares a direct annual payroll of $312 million and has an estimated $1 billion yearly economic impact on the State of Louisiana. It has six locations throughout the Pelican State: Plaquemine, Grand Bayou, Greensburg, Hahnville, Sterlington and Weeks Island.

Louisiana’s transportation infrastructure includes six interstate highways, six Class 1 railroads and one of the largest ports in the world—the Port of New Orleans. The state also offers low electricity rates due to an abundance of natural gas as well as a multitude of state and local/municipal tax incentives which amount to the lowest business taxes in the US. According to LED-cited KPMG assessments, these factors have made the Bayou State one the most attractive locations for manufacturing jobs.

Image courtesy of Governor Bobby Jindal’s Facebook page