Anatomy of a deal: Hampton Inn & Suites
Richard Preis is, to put it mildly, the eternal optimist of Baton Rouge real estate development. He has been promising a definitive announcement about RiverPlace, a mythical high-rise condo tower on a property he owns on River Road, for the better part of 10 years, though all we've seen are renderings. His bluster and self-promotion make him an easy target for critics, but he says the naysayers just don't see what he sees. Buying 200 acres near the airport in low-income north Baton Rouge may have seemed risky, even a little nutty, to some observers. But Preis says the land that became Howell Place—now a thriving multi-use development—was the last large, viable open tract in the city. "I like doing out-of-the-box deals," says Preis, a managing director at Morgan Keegan. Preis says he approaches real estate like he does the stock market, looking for opportunities in "inefficient markets." He saw north Baton Rouge as one such market, and he sees downtown as another. "It amazed me that, in the downtown business district, we did not have a new hotel [built] in 51 years," he says. "About two years ago, I made a decision that I was going to get a hotel built in downtown." Work on that hotel, a Hampton Inn & Suites, began late last year, and it's expected to open early next year. Get the full story on how the deal came together via a land swap and generous tax credits in a story by David Jacobs in the current issue of Business Report here.
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