Content tagged “Construction and property”

Tigerland property owners meet with officials to work on neighborhood cleanup

A group of some two dozen business and property owners in Tigerland is meeting this afternoon with Metro Councilman John Delgado, State Rep. Pat Smith, representatives from the Baton Rouge Police Department and other city-parish leaders to come up with ways to address problems with crime and dilapidated properties that have plagued the neighborhood for years.
As detailed in a recent Business Report cover story, redevelopment efforts in the once-popular, off-campus neighborhood have been stymied because of absentee landlords, properties with multiple owners and pockets of crime.
Greg Codaro, a Tigerland investor and property owner, says property owners would like to see additional police presence in the area, particularly after home football games, including mounted patrols and a potential joint venture among bar owners to pay for additional police details on weekend nights.

Area home sales relatively flat in September, but prices up

Eight fewer homes were sold in September this year than were sold during the month last year, a decline of about 1%, according to the latest monthly report released today by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. A total of 725 homes were sold last month in the eight-parish region tracked by GBRAR.
Year-to-date, home sales through September are up 1.9%, with 7,391 closed sales this year, compared to 6,760 through the first nine months of 2013.
The September housing report shows there were significantly fewer homes on the market last month, while the average closing price was considerably higher. New listings were down nearly 16% last month, at 918, and the total number of homes for sale was 11% lower last month, at 4,025, compared to 4,527 last September. The average home sale price in September was $200,373, an increase of 3.7% over the $193,223 average price during the month last year.

Group of investors begins push to redevelop Mid City homes

Developer Derek Fitch has only just wrapped up his latest project downtown, the Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar across North Boulevard from Galvez Plaza, set to open on Friday, but he's already turning his eyes to the next endeavor and a new area of Baton Rouge.
Together with John Bugea, Jay Holinga and Ryan Juneau, Fitch hopes to target houses in Mid City for redevelopment, starting with the neighborhood north of Baton Rouge Magnet High School. The group, called Mid City Fund, closed last week on four houses, at 2901, 2911 and 2921 North Blvd. and 122 Gottlieb St., for $200,000 altogether.

Andrews: Changes to USDA single-family eligibility maps delayed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a popular rural development loan program that provides mortgage financing in rural areas around the country. Property eligibility is determined by the USDA and posted to the USDA website from time to time. Earlier this year we thought that certain areas would be deemed ineligible as of Sept. 30 because of population growth, including parts of Gonzales and Denham Springs.
Due to continued discussions on the matter in Congress, the current maps were continued for the time being and no currently eligible areas were changed to ineligible. These current eligibility maps can be viewed on the USDA's website.

Cook: Benny's buys Siegen site for seventh car wash

Well-known carwash operator Benny Alford has purchased a tract on Siegen Lane just north of Perkins Road for the construction of his next automated tunnel car wash facility. Alford purchased the roughly 2.1-acre site on Oct. 8 for $775,345.20, or exactly $6 per square foot. The property was purchased from the estate of Jerome Winfield, with the deal brokered by Jim Walsh at Jim Walsh Real Estate.
The site includes about 170 feet of frontage on Siegen Lane, and it's zoned HC1 for heavy commercial development. Alford has been the leader in the automated tunnel carwash industry for several years, with six locations in the area.
"Benny recognized this as a high-traffic corner that would be advantageous for his automated car wash operation," says Walsh. Construction on the car wash is expected to begin within the next four months.

Office building on South Sherwood sells for $750K

A fully leased building in the CreekStone Office Park on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard has been sold for $750,000 to 11410 Lake Sherwood North LLC, the sole member of which is attorney Daniel Holliday, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court.
Bill Jeansonne with Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, who represented the seller, DJ & ER Properties LLC—composed of Don Joffrion and Edward Rotenberg—says Holliday bought the property as an investment. Two tenants, Specialty Risk Associates and Assurance Financial Group, occupy the 5,192-square-foot building. The sale price works out to about $149 per square foot. Grey Mullins represented the buyer.

Red River, 'Advocate' among those submitting plans for new buildings

Red River Bank has filed a plan review application with the Department of Public Works for its proposed location adjacent to the Acadian-Perkins Plaza parking lot, signaling that it is ready to start construction there. According to the application, the project will cost $1.2 million. The building, addressed at 3191 S. Acadian Thruway, is expected to measure 2,800 square feet.
Before Red River Bank was able to purchase the tract in June, the property was caught up in a property dispute between the previous owner and Jon Claitor, who owns the plaza.
Red River market president Joanie Montelaro says the legal issues have been laid to rest and she expects construction to begin before the end of the year, at the latest, so that the branch can open next summer.

Before reaching deal with Spinosa, Perkins Rowe owners filed permit to build their own chilled water plant

One week before developer Tommy Spinosa finalized the deal to sell his water-cooling plant at Perkins Rowe to the development's new owners, the ownership group filed for permits with the city-parish Department of Public Works to build its own chilled water facility at the mixed-use development. According to records filed with DPW, on Sept. 30 Crawfish LLC—a subsidiary of the Texas-based investment group that has owned Perkins Rowe since late last year—applied for a new building permit for a 2,790-square-foot, $3.58 million chilled water plant at the development. One week later, Spinosa agreed to sell his chilled-water plant, Central Facilities, which was at the center of a dispute between him and Crawfish for months. Though Spinosa lost ownership of Perkins Rowe in a foreclosure battle, he...

Money panel agrees to La. construction spending

State officials have agreed to a list of $125 million in new construction spending this year—projects recommended by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. The Associated Press reports the Bond Commission approved the spending today without objection. It also gave preliminary support to borrowing $200 million to keep dollars flowing to pay for the state's construction work. Lawmakers gave Jindal decision-making power to choose among their projects in this year's construction budget, after packing the bill with projects costing more than three times the money the state had to spend. Louisiana has a cap on annual borrowing that limits spending on construction work to $355 million in the fiscal year that began July 1. The projects are paid for with dollars borrowed through bond sales to investors, paid off over years with interest. As previously reported, Jindal's capital outlay...

Circle K gets approval for new Government Street development

Circle K will move forward with plans to raze an existing Shell gas station at the corner of Government Street and South Foster Drive, following the Metro Council Zoning Committee's approval on Wednesday of Circle K's plans for a new 4,400-square-foot convenience store with a gas station and a 1,040-square-foot car wash. When the project was initially proposed last summer, the Planning Commission staff recommended rejecting it because of issues both with access and the design. The Mid City Redevelopment Alliance also raised concerns about the design, arguing the plan doesn't align with the city-parish master plan or the alliance's pedestrian-friendly goals for the area. But the Planning Commission voted to approve the project at its meeting in September, and Planning Director Frank Duke says Circle K has modified its designs and he is now satisfied with the plans. "My hat's off to...

Salsbury's Dodge buys site farther down Airline for future expansion

The owners of Salsbury's Dodge have acquired a 12.2-acre parcel on Airline Highway south of Interstate 12, where they plan to eventually relocate from their current location at 9950 Airline Highway, just north of Old Hammond Highway. The move could still be a couple of years away, however, says Salsbury's general manager Frank Lopinto. "It's a real estate investment for the dealership, and at some point we will expand down there," says Lopinto. "But at this point I can't tell you if it's two years away or five years." The new location, which Salsbury's acquired for $3.5 million from the Broussard-Capozzoli family, is about 50% bigger than Salsbury's current 8-acre site. Perhaps more significantly, it's located along the growing south Airline Highway corridor, which is the home to several major car dealerships. "Airline from I-12 to Hwy. 42 is what Florida Boulevard between downtown and Cortana Mall used to be," says Mark Hebert of Kurz and Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who...

SJB Group buys building to house surveying division for $675K

SJB Group LLC, a multidiscipline engineering firm that often contracts with the city-parish, will relocate its surveying division to a warehouse it plans to remodel off of Picardy Avenue. SJB purchased the land from Triple P Summa LLC, managed by Mike Wampold, for $675,000. Alexandra Hughes, manager of marketing for SJB Group, says the new space will better suit the surveying division's heavy equipment and trucks. "The surveying division has really been growing, and we're excited for their new space," Hughes says. The division has outgrown SJB's current offices near the intersection of Essen and Anselmo lanes, but it was important that they stay close, Hughes says. "We do our work directly together. We work together all day," Hughes says. The division does not plan to operate out of the new building until mid-January, to allow for time to remodel the 13,000-square-foot warehouse into 5,000 square feet of office space and 4,000 square feet of storage for equipment. A fenced-in covered...

Cook: Kirk's automotive building sells

Kirk's Automotive has sold the building they currently occupy at 9555 Airline Highway to Brewster Road Holdings Baton Rouge LLC for $3 million. Brewster was represented by Robert J. Comeaux and Billie R. Comeaux. The purchase consisted of a 3.56-acre site improved with six buildings containing a total of 58,000 square feet. The improvements include not only a showroom, but also automotive repair and storage space. The sale closed on Sept. 30, and the sale price calculates to about $51.75 per square foot. Chris Pike with Mike Falgoust and Associates brokered the transaction. "The new owners are not prepared at this time to reveal what they intend to do with the property, but it will be an entirely different use, and will require some renovation," said Pike. Kirk's will relocate to a building they leased further south at 11740 Airline Highway that is a around 27,000 square feet and better fits its needs. The building Kirk's will lease was formerly occupied by Pro Power but has been...

'10/12 Industry Report': Nation's largest worker village set for construction in southwest La.

In preparation for a huge influx of workers in southwest Louisiana in the coming years, the largest worker village ever built in the United States is set to begin construction in Lake Charles. As detailed in a story by 10/12 Industry Report—a special publication from the publishers of Business Report—Pelican Lodge is being constructed by Lake Charles-based Greenfield Logistical Solutions. It will be located near Chennault International Airport on 250 acres owned by the Port of Lake Charles. Designed to house 4,000 people, the village could be expanded to include up to 8,000 beds in dorm- and apartment-style living spaces. "This will be an experience like no other," says Project Manager Sammy Pate. "We want these people to be able to come here to Lake Charles and stay here and be impacted. We hope they see the passion of this community and say, I've never had it that way before.' That's our goal." Accommodations, transportation and catering are just some of...

A chilling end

The owners of Perkins Rowe reached an agreement with developer Tommy Spinosa to acquire Central Facilities, the plant that provides chilled water for the air conditioning system at the mixed-use development.

Behind the story of Highland Coffees

I always marvel at what galvanizes a community, though I have learned it is seldom the really important things.

Perkins Plaza Center sells for $1.48 million

Perkins Plaza Center, just east of Siegen Lane on Perkins Road, has sold for nearly $1.48 million.

Drusilla Apartments to be torn down

The vacant Drusilla Apartments complex at 2256 Drusilla Lane near Old Hammond Highway is scheduled to be demolished. The property, which has been an eyesore to residents of the area for years, is undergoing asbestos abatement and should be razed within the next couple of weeks. That will clear the way for the property's redevelopment, says Mark Hebert of Kurz and Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who is jointly marketing the 2-acre property along with the adjacent 1.5-acre site that previously housed a small strip shopping center. That shopping center, which was home to the Time Out Lounge, was destroyed by fire late last year. Though the two parcels are being listed as a single 3.5-acre property, they remain distinct tracts with separate owners. Hebert says he envisions several potential uses for the site, including a multifamily or a retirement development.—Stephanie...

'10/12 Industry Report': Timing is key for suppliers, subcontractors and vendors looking to tap into boom

"Owners of some businesses across south Louisiana may feel like characters in the Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot," writes contributing writer Kathy Finn in the new 10/12 Industry Report, a special publication from the publishers of Business Report. "On the one hand, they're pretty sure that something significant will occur soon, but the longer they wait and the more they discuss it, the less certain they are of what to expect." Locals have become so accustomed to hearing about the huge investments planned by major companies that news of another billion-dollar project barely causes a stir these days. But that doesn't mean businesses aren't paying attention, especially those that hope to gain work as subcontractors, suppliers or services vendors on the big projects. "All of our members are very excited about what's coming to Louisiana and southeast Texas," says Al Bargas, president of the Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. He adds,...

Some businesses on Jefferson may be added to Urban Design Overlay District

The Metro Council may look into the effects of extending the boundaries of an Urban Design Overlay District that currently governs the design of a mostly residential stretch of Jefferson Highway to include nearby businesses. At its regular meeting Wednesday, the council will consider requesting a report from the Planning Commission on the merits of extending the district. Urban Design Overlay Districts govern the greenspace, landscape and architectural features of properties within their boundaries. The current boundaries for this district stretch from the creek northwest of Drusilla Lane to Bluebonnet Road, including only properties that front the south side of Jefferson Highway. The area being studied for the district expansion includes properties fronting the north side of Jefferson between Drusilla Lane and Fairway Drive. Businesses in the proposed expansion area include McDonald's,

Emprint/Moran Printing inks lease for former Sears site on Industriplex

To expand its operations, Emprint/Moran Printing has signed a lease for the 20,000-square-foot warehouse at 12114 Industriplex Blvd. that previously housed the Sears Service Center. Emprint/Moran signed the lease on Wednesday last week and has already begun renovating the facility, which the company needed to accommodate new, state-of-the-art printing and binding equipment it recently purchased. "This will be a really great spot for us," says Emprint/Moran President Becky Vance. "This will enable us to expand our print and fulfillment capacity." The company is doing an extensive overhaul of the building, which Sears closed last summer after 22 years in business there. Emprint/Moran's headquarters will remain at 5524 Florida Blvd. It also has a separate warehouse on Mammoth Avenue. Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate represented Emprint/Moran in the deal. Scot Guidry of Mike Falgoust & Associates represented the property's owner, Warmack Properties, which is based in...

La. home prices rise 3.8% in August

Average home prices rose in every state in August, compared to the same month last year, with Louisiana posting a 3.8% increase, according to the latest monthly report from CoreLogic. The 3.8% increase includes sales of distressed homes—that is, properties under foreclosure or advertised for sale by a mortgagee. Excluding such sales, home prices rose 3.7% in Louisiana compared to last August. Nationwide, home prices rose 6.4% during the month, marking a slight decline from a year-over-year gain of 6.8% in July. As The Associated Press reports, the pace of monthly gains continues to slow, helping to improve affordability for would-be buyers. Year-over-year home prices had been rising as much as 12% for several months at the end of last year. However, while national home prices remain 12.1% below their peak in April 2006,

Andrews: Interest rates stable to slightly lower heading into final quarter

At the start of the fourth quarter, there's little to say about interest rate trends. That is, rates are still historically low and have not yet begun their climb out of the cellar to more normal levels. The prime rate is still 3.25%, where it has been for several years, and the 10-year treasury rate is at 2.35%, down about 25 basis points from last year. Freddie Mac reports that a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is currently running at about 4.19%, almost unchanged from a year earlier. So there is not much movement in the pricing of loans currently, though speculation about near-term increases is that rates will start trending up somewhere around the middle of 2015. If you have not already refinanced your home mortgage—and there are precious few who have not—or if you have not locked in that rate on your commercial deal, you might have a few more months to procrastinate. But don't wait too long.

Cook: Circle K acquires more property at Highland and Staring for new prototype store

Circle K, which owns and operates the Exxon gas station at the northwest corner of Highland Road and Staring Lane, recently acquired a portion of the adjoining shopping center to expand for a new prototype location. Circle K closed on the 23,000-square-foot site on Oct. 1 from Starring Retail LLC for $694,000, or just over $30 per square foot. The site includes a 6,000-square-foot retail building that will be razed—along with the existing gas station—to make way for a new 4,000-square-foot convenience store. The sale was brokered by Mark Hebert at Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate. "The corner site is prime for a retail convenience store," says Hebert. "The deal took about 18 months to close, but Circle K recognized the high traffic counts and surrounding residential development, and knew this would be an excellent location for a new modern store." Circle K will begin clearing the site to construct a new store in the next few months.

Changes to zoning code being considered to streamline, simplify rezoning process

Property owners who are denied a rezoning request on a piece of property will no longer have to wait one year before submitting a new rezoning request for the same property if a proposed amendment to the city-parish zoning code is approved. The Planning Commission later this month will consider several amendments to the zoning code designed to streamline and simplify the zoning process. The provision dealing with the waiting period following a rejected request is among those proposed amendments. "Currently, if a case is denied a rezoning request, the applicant has to wait a year before coming back with any other proposal," says Ryan Holcomb, assistant planning director. "This waives that language and allows them to resubmit as long as they come back with a different plan." That's significant because it would prevent a property from effectively being taken out of commerce for a full year, which is currently the case. Other proposed changes to the zoning code include clearly defining...

Jefferson Highway shopping center sells for $880K

Jefferson Center, the shopping center at 8731 Jefferson Highway that's home to Jeff's Food Mart, Go Printing, Patio Lounge and a gold exchange, has sold for $880,000, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Jefferson Realty LLC, managed by Ahmad Shah Rajab Ali, bought the 7,500-square-foot center that sits on 1.5 acres from 8731 Jefferson LLC, managed by Mei Gui Xiao. Ali is the owner of Jeff's Food Mart, says Ty Harvison with NAI/Latter & Blum, who represented the property in the deal. The sale price works out to about $113 per square foot. Harvison says the center, which is about 40 years old and is located near the intersection of Jefferson Highway and Drusilla Lane, is in some need of updating. Meanwhile, other recent sales of note recorded by the clerk of court include the Exxon gas station at 8885 Highland Rd., which sold for $694,513 to Circle K Stores Inc. from Staring Retail LLC, managed by James Hatcher. Also, Hammond-based B & E...

Appeals court hands BancorpSouth a victory in suit over Greens at Millerville loans

BancorpSouth has scored a victory in the First Circuit Court of Appeal in its long-running legal battle with developer Windy Gladney over $2 million in construction loans. In a judgment rendered Wednesday, a five-judge panel ruled that 19th Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant did not have the authority to throw out the bank's claims against Gladney, which the judge did in May 2013 on the grounds that the bank had "willfully refused to comply" with numerous discovery requests made by Gladney for thousands of pages of bank records, emails and other financial documents. In its Oct. 1 judgment, the First Circuit agreed the bank failed to comply with discovery requests, but said those failures occurred before court-ordered discovery and therefore " … do not, as a matter of law, support the ultimate sanction of dismissal ..." As a practical matter, the ruling will...

Apartment complex in Melrose East sells for $1.2M

A 72-unit apartment complex in the Melrose East neighborhood has sold for $1.2 million to a Los Angeles-area financial and real estate services company after the seller filed for bankruptcy. According to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court, B-G & G Investors LLC, the seller of Degas Manor, owes $1.49 million on the property. Sabal Financial Group, the buyer—which manages over $4.5 billion in assets in the U.S. and Europe for clients and investors—declined to comment on its purchase. The property, at 763 Monet Drive, is close to the intersection of North Lobdell Boulevard and Harry Drive, south of the future site of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority's Ardendale development. B-G & G formerly owned several apartment complexes in and around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Degas Manor was the last of its Louisiana assets, according to Zack Gyler, a...

RDA transferring land in Ardendale to state for automotive training center, allied health facility

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is finalizing paperwork today to transfer to the state 20 acres of property at Ardendale for the construction of an 86,000-square-foot automotive training center and 45,000-square-foot allied health facility. Both facilities will be part of Baton Rouge Community College's new east campus, the centerpiece of the mixed-use development known as Ardendale, which sits on 200 acres north of Florida Boulevard in a neighborhood formerly called Smiley Heights. Once the transfer of the 20 acres is complete, the state will put out for bid the Center for Excellence in Auto Technology, as the automotive training center is officially known. Construction is set to begin in January, and it is expected to open in September 2016. The allied health training facility is scheduled to be completed in late 2016, as is a Career Academy High School, which will be developed on 8 acres that will be transferred to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in the...

EBR commercial, residential permitting falls in July, August

The number of building permits issued for commercial and residential projects across East Baton Rouge Parish fell during July and August. According to a pair of monthly reports just released by the city-parish Department of Public Works, a total of 127 commercial permits were issued over the two months, down from 163 during the same months last year. The largest commercial project to receive a permit during those months was a new 14,750-square-foot ministry building at the St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church on Highland Road, valued at $5.75 million. Year to date, 454 commercial permits have been issued through August, down from 542 during the first eight months of 2013. For residential projects during July and August, a total of 389 permits were issued, down from 416 during the months last year. Through August, residential permitting is up in EBR for the year, with 1,442 permits...

News alert: Highland Coffees landlords want to reopen talks

The owners of the West Chimes Street building that is home to Highland Coffees want to reopen lease negotiations with the coffee shop's owner, Clarke Cadzow. The move comes one day after Cadzow announced he would close the business, which has been a fixture in the North Gates neighborhood for 25 years, on Christmas Eve because he was unable to come to terms on a new lease with the building's owners. The announcement prompted outrage from loyal customers, who flocked to social media sites and signed an online petition to save the business. “We didn't want Highland Coffees to move,” says Hank Saurage, one of the landlords. “We are willing to reopen these negotiations with Clarke, and we are hopeful his loyal customers will understand we need their support as well.” It is unclear if or when the two sides may meet. Cadzow could not be reached for comment.—Stephanie Riegel

BR rum distillery delayed, hopes to break ground by end of year

Cane Land Distilling Company, a new startup that will distill rum from its 1-acre site at River Road and Oklahoma Street near downtown, is hoping to begin construction on its 29,000-square-foot distillery before the end of the year. The company—which put up a sign last week on its property depicting the planned facility—had originally hoped to be in operation by now, but ran behind schedule for a variety of reasons, including the inherent challenges of building along the River Road. "You're only allowed to build along the river at certain times of the year, depending on how high the water is," explains Walter Tharp, who co-owns Cane Land with partner Jim Massey. Plans for the distillery call for a two-story building that includes the distilling and barrel storage areas, as well as a 1,300-square foot tasting room/bar and retail area that will sell bottled products and promotional merchandise. There will also be an outdoor space for events. Cane Land announced plans for...

BR roofing company buys Highlandia site of new office, warehouse

Baton Rouge-based Premier South Roofing and Sheet Metal has purchased property at 625 Highlandia Dr., on which the company's new offices and warehouse have been constructed and are set to be moved into next week. Premier South, which is currently located 11646 Industriplex Blvd., purchased the property as Premier South LLC from Highlandia R&D LLC for $1,214,919, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court today. A spokesperson for Premier South says the new facility on Highlandia includes a two-story office, as well as a warehouse. The company's offices on Industriplex will be vacated following the move. The listed manager of Highlandia R&D is Randy Poche. —Steve Sanoski

Cook: Third filing of Jefferson Quarters subdivision planned

Edward "Scooter" Stafford of Stafford Custom Homes has purchased a 4.41-acre site fronting Jefferson Highway south of Hoo Shoo Too Road from Randall and Rebecca Smith for $465,000, or about $2.42 per square foot. A preliminary plan shows the property will be used for the development of 20 single-family lots that will serve as the third filing of Jefferson Quarters subdivision. But representatives from Stafford homes say they are rethinking the potential development of lots and are also considering constructing a single-family residence on the site because development costs for subdivisions have escalated. Stafford acquired the property under BES Investment Properties LLC, and the Smiths were represented by Brent Struthers at Beau Box Commercial Real Estate. A plan shows 20 lots being developed with an average size of 50 feet by 130 feet. The site includes more than 300 feet of frontage on Jefferson Highway and about 50 feet of frontage on the dead-end of Doc Bar Avenue. The...

Ascension Parish industrial park approaches next phase

L.J. Grezaffi, the developer of a 700-acre industrial park at the intersection of La. 30 and La. 73 in Ascension Parish, says the next phase of the project can be expected to begin next spring after a 1.25-mile road is completed. The road cuts through the development and is needed to access some areas of the park that are not immediately accessible by highways 30 and 73. Grezaffi says the thoroughfare will relieve between 40% and 50% of the traffic on La. 30 going toward Interstate 10 from the plants in the area. The road will be as wide or wider than La. 73, Grezaffi says. Bids on the project, stalled due to the wet summer, will be taken in mid-October. Grezaffi says there are four companies that have negotiated a space off of the future corridor, but, "until you have it in writing, there's no guarantee." Two of those companies lease equipment that is used in nearby plants. Another, Grezaffi says, is a warehouse company. Several major projects are currently under construction,...

'10/12 Industry Report': Industrial construction curve has barely begun, but real estate markets are already booming

Many Baton Rouge-area companies are in a wait-and-see mode in terms of their expectations for an industrial business surge, but local real estate professionals don't have to be convinced of what lies ahead. As detailed in a feature from the new 10/12 Industry Report—a special publication from the publishers of Business Report—agents in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors all say rising demand is keeping them busy searching for space and scouting deals for clients. Not surprisingly, vacant warehouses are growing scarce. But available office space is also getting tight, says commercial agent Jonathan Walker at Maestri-Murell Inc. in Baton Rouge. Much of the office demand is coming from engineering firms that are expanding to handle large industrial design projects they have taken on. "They need a lot of manpower, and they fill up a lot of office space," Walker says. As professional services and other support businesses staff up, the action...

Andrews: Consumer protection group getting tough on mortgage servicers

On Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a relatively new consumer advocacy group created out of the Dodd-Frank Act, enforced new mortgage servicing rules against Flagstar Bank of Troy, Michigan, and hit the $9.87 billion bank with $37.5 million in fines. At issue are Flagstar's loss mitigation activities and the bank's failures "at every step in the foreclosure relief process" according to a CFPB statement. "Flagstar "took excessive time to process borrowers' applications for foreclosure relief, failed to tell borrowers when their applications were incomplete, denied loan modifications to qualified borrowers, and illegally delayed finalizing permanent loan modifications." As a result, "struggling homeowners lost the opportunity to save their homes," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Furthermore, the CFPB says similar...

Councilman Heck going into the concrete business

Metro Councilman Ryan Heck is laying the foundation for a new business: Concrete. Heck and partner Steven Cheatham have formed a new company, Cajun Ready Mix, that will specialize in light commercial work, though it will also do residential and industrial jobs. Heck and Cheatham are equal partners in the business, which they formed to take advantage of the building boom underway in the Capital Region. "We're excited to grow as Baton Rouge grows," Heck says. "This area will experience tremendous growth over the next few years, and we want to be a part of it." Cajun Ready Mix is starting out with 17 employees but has an aggressive growth plan that calls for capturing 30% of the local market share over the next four years. Heck, who has a bachelor's degree in construction management and a master's of business administration, worked as a senior procurement specialist at Albemarle Corp. from 2010 until 2013. He was elected to the Metro Council in Nov. 2012. Cheatham is an investor and...

New sorority house on LSU campus will be first in more than 30 years

LSU's Sorority Row will soon see the construction of a new house for the first time in more than three decades. Plans are in the works for the construction of an 18,000-square-foot, 50-bed house that will be located next to the Zeta Tau Alpha house, which is at 4010 W. Lakeshore Drive. The new sorority house will be built on a now-vacant lot that previously was the site of the Delta Chi fraternity house. The new house will cost $4.5 million to construct and is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2016. The state Legislature has approved the sale of revenue bonds and the use of university self-generated funds to cover the cost of the project. Unlike most of the Greek houses on campus, the new house will be owned and operated by LSU Residential Life, which will lease it to Alpha Phi, a new sorority that colonized at LSU in 2013 and has quickly grown. Currently, Alpha Phi is operating out of the LSU Union. In 2015, it will move into the LSU Press house, which was originally built as...

Independent insurers association sells Bluebonnet offices for $1M

BME Properties LLC has bought the former offices of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana, located off Bluebonnet Boulevard at the intersection of Burbank Drive, for $1.05 million. The building, at 9818 Bluebonnet Blvd., sits on 2.83 acres of land. JC Boyle, Denny Efferson and Greg Morgan are listed as members of the BME limited liability company. Together they also manage Trecon, an automation and controls systems engineering firm. Boyle says they plan to open a second branch of the company in the offices at the new property. Their current Zachary offices will be complemented by a south Baton Rouge location, Boyle says. “A lot of our new client base comes out of that area,” Boyle says. The building is divided into three sections, with two offices and a storage warehouse, measuring more than 10,000 square feet in total. Another noncompetitive engineering firm currently rents out the back office and will remain a tenant. IIABL, meanwhile, plans to move...

Capital Region home sales cooler in August this year

At 851 total sales across the eight-parish region, home sales in the Capital Region were down 5.7% in August compared to the same month a year previous, says the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors in its latest monthly report, released today. "While that is a decline, it does need to be noted that August 2013 closed sales were significantly higher than surrounding months, and thus skew the year-over-year figure," GBRAR says in a press release accompanying the report. In August last year, the 888 reported sales at that time represented a 43.7% increase over the 618 sales in August 2012. In the report released today, the August 2013 sales are revised upward to 902—which represents the best month for home sales last year and the only month during which more than 900 sales were recorded. This year, home sales in the Capital Region surpassed 900 in May (918) and nearly topped the 900 mark in June (896) and July (871). "Locally, August 2014 isn't so much a bad month for home...

Apartment complex near Nicholson sells for $732K

A 20-unit apartment complex on Iowa Street called Stadium's Edge—located near the area proposed for the mixed-use River District development on Nicholson Drive—has sold for $732,000 to Oregon-based Belle Property Group LLC, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The apartments at 2875 Iowa St. were purchased from G & C Interests LLC, represented by Howard and Cindy Richards of Franklinton. Belle Property's sole member, Constance DeMerell, is a New Orleans native and was represented by the Scarborough, McNeese, O'Brien and Kilkenny law firm out of Lake Oswego, Oregon. Plans for the first phase of the River District are scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. The city-parish also recently received a $1.8 million grant to...

Chabill's Tire Center buys property at Bluebonnet and Burbank for $823K

Jerry Pearson of Pearson's Travel World is continuing to break up a 16-acre tract of land he owns at the corner of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Burbank Drive, most recently with the sale of 1 acre to Charles L Gowland Sr. Family LLC for the development of a Chabill's Tire Center. The land sold for $823,480, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court's office. Pearson says there are 11 to 12 acres of land left in his tract, 4 acres of which front Bluebonnet Boulevard. Peason says his asking price for that section is $22 per square foot. The 7 acres in the rear of the property are priced at $12 per square foot. "We feel like the growth area of Baton Rouge is in that corridor, especially with all of the residential construction nearby," Pearson says. "We feel like it's a very valuable piece of property." Goodwill bought the first section of the property...

Andrews: Risky home mortgages may be getting easier to obtain

Fannie Mae's Third Quarter Sentiment Survey was released a few days ago and it indicates an expectation on the part of senior mortgage lenders that there will be lower purchase mortgage activity over the next three months. This slowdown on top of the already slow refinance market means slim pickings and increased competition for mortgage lenders as we close out 2014. Larger banks might try to combat this trend by pursuing demand for riskier mortgages and making those loans easier to get. According to Fannie Mae, "larger lenders continue to be more likely than their smaller counterparts to say they expect to ease their credit standards during the next three months, in particular for non-GSE-eligible and government loans, perhaps indicating an effort to boost purchase mortgage activity before the year comes to a close." Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at...

Cook: Shopping center in heart of Plaquemine sells for just under $4M

The Belleview Shopping Center in the heart of Plaquemine has been sold for $3,954,500. The property, which is 100% leased, is anchored by a 29,000-square-foot LeBlanc's Food Store, and also includes national tenants such as Dollar General, Little Caesar's, CitiTrends, Payless Shoesource, AT&T Wireless and Radio Shack. A total of 84,164 square feet of rental space is situated across 6.86 acres on the property's site off La. 75. Carmen Austin of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate brokered the deal, representing both the purchaser, Ohio-based Carnegie Companies, and the seller, GLSK LLC.
(Appraiser Tom Cook owns Cook Moore and Associates. Reach him at 293-7006 or [email protected].)

BRAF real estate arm buys Main Street building for $2.2M

Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation's real estate company, has purchased the downtown building at 500 Main St. that is home to Stantec, formerly ABMB Engineers, for $2.2 million. In a sale that closed on Thursday, CPRT 500 Main LLC—which was incorporated in May by Commercial Properties General Counsel Ty McMains—purchased the building from Highland Road Properties Inc., which is owned by Mike Bruce, Mike McGaugh and Steve Boudreaux. All three are principals of ABMB, which was acquired by the Canadian engineering firm Stantec in 2012. Bruce declines to comment on the sale this morning, but sources familiar with the transaction say the firm has no plans to move at this time and will continue to lease the building from CPRT. A BRAF spokesperson did not return a call for comment by this morning's deadline. Last week CPRT celebrated the...

Tin Roof Brewery sells land on Oklahoma St. to BRAF for $350K

Land purchased by the Tin Roof Brewing Company last year for $115,000—once the planned location for a new brewery—has been sold for $349,308 to an entity affiliated with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court's office. The vacant property at 635 Oklahoma St., at the intersection of River Road, measures just under 1 acre. Tin Roof bought it last August, just before plans for the nearly 30-acre, $50 million Water Campus research and office park were publicly announced in December. Construction of the Water Campus' first building is set to begin before the end of the year, less than a block from the parcel BRAF has purchased from Tin Roof. BRAF is a key partner in the development of the Water Campus. Tin Roof Brewing co-founder William McGehee III says the sale hasn't interfered with the brewery's...

Marriott owner still mulling possible sale of iconic high-rise

As of this afternoon, the Marriott at Interstate 10 and College Drive is not under new ownership. That's because no decision has been made yet by the hotel's owners on whether or not to accept the $21.4 million high bid made during an auction that closed Wednesday afternoon. The high bid did not meet the reserve, or minimum, price lenders were seeking, says bankruptcy attorney Brett Furr, who was not directly involved with the auction but represented the hotel lender—CCMS—in 2013 during foreclosure proceedings. CCMS is now trying to determine whether to accept the high bid, further negotiate with the bidder or "put a for sale sign on it." The online auction drew 10 bidders, according to Furr, who says he is not aware of the identity of the winning bidder. "They're playing it pretty close to the vest," Furr says of CCMS. Though it is unknown what CCMS set as the...

News alert: Marriott auction closes with $21.4M bid; Wampold out of the running

An online auction of the iconic high-rise Marriott Hotel off Interstate 10 and College Drive closed this afternoon with a high bid of $21.4 million, says developer Mike Wampold, who was not the top bidder. The high bid did not meet the reserve, or minimum, price that lenders were seeking so it is unclear if they will accept the bid, negotiate with the high bidder—whose identity is unknown—or put the property back up for auction. Wampold was among those who bid on the 299-room hotel, but says he bowed out earlier today after the price climbed above his $13 million bid. Wampold says he was interested in the 43-year-old hotel but that it needs a significant renovation with an estimated price tag of between $50,000 and $60,000 per room, or between $11.4 million and $13.7 million. Lender CCMS, a trust, seized the hotel in May 2013 from Columbia Properties Baton Rouge, which owed more than $32 million on a $36.5 million promissory note. Three months later, it bought back the...

Despite marketing materials, BRAF says Acadian Village not on the market

HFF, a national real estate firm based in Dallas, is circulating an offering memorandum for the Acadian Village shopping center, Commercial Properties Realty Trust's retail development at the intersection of Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway. But a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which owns CPRT, says the 11-month-old shopping center is not on the market. "The Foundation and CPRT are repositioning real estate assets," says BRAF spokesman Mukul Verma. "In doing so, we are getting an indication of the value of the assets. Only after that will we decide which, if any, assets will be sold." The 40-page offering memorandum suggests otherwise. According to the document: "An exceptional opportunity has been created to acquire Acadian Village, a 100% leased, 79,920-square-foot, grocery-anchored retail center located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana." The document goes on to say the property "is being offered free and clear of any existing financing thus allowing investors to...

Several BR businesses file plans for remodeling projects

LeBlanc's Food Stores, which will open up a LeBlanc's Frais Marche supermarket to replace the closed Hi Nabor in the Drusilla Village Shopping Center, has submitted a plan review application with the Department of Public Works, signaling the impending construction. Donnie Jarreau Real Estate bought the shopping center for $10.5 million in April, promising a facelift and new tenants. According to the application, the store will be over 30,000 square feet, which will be a significant expansion from the former Hi Nabor store, which measured about 19,000 square feet. Robert Holtzclaw from Monroe is the architect on the project. Renovations are expected to take between three and four months. The application is among a number received by DPW recently from Baton Rouge businesses with...

Mid City alliance disappointed with Circle K plans for Government site

The Mid City Redevelopment Alliance is disappointed with the Planning Commission's vote on Monday evening to approve plans for Circle K to expand its footprint at Government Street and South Foster Drive because the plan doesn't align with the city-parish master plan or the alliance's pedestrian-friendly goals for the area. Planning Commission Resource Center Coordinator Gilles Morin says the commission staff recommended denying the Circle K request because it doesn't fit with the area's urban design overlay district. Samuel Sanders, executive director of the MCRA, says he wishes Circle K had contacted the alliance with its plans before it went before the commission. "It's a challenge for us; while we welcome the investment, we would also appreciate alignment to the overlay district," Sanders says. Circle K plans to raze the existing gas station and car wash at Government and South Foster and rebuild a new 4,400-square-foot station and 1,040-square-foot car wash on site.

Alvarez buys 44 lots at $2.5M for Coursey area subdivision

Alvarez Construction has purchased land for a new 44-lot subdivision called Parkview Point, located off Stumberg Lane near Coursey Boulevard. The land was sold by DAGR LLC for slightly more than $2.5 million, according to paperwork filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. According to Sebastian Alvarez, executive vice president of planning and development, construction will begin before the end of this month and the neighborhood will be finished in eight to 10 months. Homebuyers will be able to move in even sooner than that, he says. "We can have a house finished in 65 days," Alvarez says. Homes will be built with a minimum of 1,600 square feet of living area. Alvarez says the homes will be priced beginning at $220,000. "It's a great location. The Coursey-Bluebonnet corridor has always been a really strong area," Alvarez says. The land purchase included a 1.3-acre common area for a pond at the entrance to the subdivision. —Kelly Connelly

Cook: Prairieville site purchased for new Keller Williams First Choice office

Bruce Johnson has purchased a roughly 1.7-acre site near the intersection of Airline Highway and Commerce Centre Drive, near La. 42 in Prairieville, from Neighbors Federal Credit Union. According to Justin Langlois with Sperry Van Ness, who brokered the transaction, Neighbors had acquired about 2.6 acres at the site a few years ago and is selling off a portion of their original purchase to Johnson. The sale closed for $495,000, or about $6.70 per square foot. Neighbors is retaining slightly less than an acre of land at the corner of Commerce Centre Drive and Airline Highway. Johnson will construct a 6,500-square-foot office building for Keller Williams First Choice. First Choice was looking for a site to take advantage of the growth in the Ascension Parish market, and this site fit their needs, Langlois says. Construction of the building should begin sometime in the next few months.

Leading the dairy

Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has brought in new managers in three departments since quality control problems earlier this year cost the company several accounts and threatened to tarnish the adored local brand.

Downtown mixed-use project breaks ground with completion expected by next fall

Officials gathered downtown this morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Onyx Residences, a $7 million, mixed-use development including 28 apartments that is expected to be completed in about a year. A project of Commercial Properties Realty Trust—the real estate arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation—the five-story building at the corner of Third and Convention streets will also include 5,600 square feet of commercial space. The 28 one- and two-bedroom apartments will be located above the ground floor commercial space and will range from 600 to 1,100 square feet. They'll rent for between $1,600 and $2,500 per month, with each apartment featuring a home security and home management technology package from Monroe-based CenturyLink, as well as a balcony or terrace overlooking Third Street, Convention Street or the Shaw Center for the Arts. "Downtown has more than a dozen new restaurants, more class-A office space, a new Town Square, hotels, the Shaw Center for the...

DFG sells properties

The industrial services company DFG Enterprises sold the facility it occupies at 3555 and 3605 Delta Drive in St. Gabriel for nearly $4.2 million.

Local firms take over contract to oversee $200M worth of EBR schools construction

CSRS and Tillage Construction have teamed up to manage some $200 million in construction projects for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, a deal that is worth $6.9 million over five years. The local firms came together earlier this year to buy out Garrard Group—an Atlanta, Georgia-based firm that had been CSRS's partner in the management of school system facilities projects since 1999. "When the contract came back up for bid it was an opportunity for us to take all the business local," says CSRS owner Curt Soderberg. "Instead of having a partner in Atlanta I have a partner here." Though specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, CSRS has a 75% share of the joint venture. Tillage Construction has 25%. For Tillage, the significance of the partnership is as much about opening new doors as it is about generating a steady stream of revenues. "This gives Tillage Construction an opportunity to expand the services we offer, and it will give us a good piece of new business,"...

Kleinpeter brings in new managers as it continues addressing quality control

Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has brought in new managers in three departments since quality control problems earlier this year cost the company several accounts and threatened to tarnish the beloved local brand. Changes to the dairy's management team include a new plant manager, a new quality control manager, a new sanitation manager—which is a newly created position—and a new sales manager. The management changes are among several steps the dairy has taken in recent months to address problems with the milk's taste and shelf life, which were detailed in a Business Report cover story in May. In a video posted last week on the company's Facebook page, President and CEO Jeff Kleinpeter says in addition to the management changes the dairy has set up temperature checks for all milk systems. It also records the temperature of each delivery truck when it makes deliveries and uses hand-held computers to...

Brickyard South to open Friday in former Mud & Water location downtown

Brickyard South, a new bar in the former space of Mud & Water at 174 South Blvd., is set to open Friday at 5 p.m. Co-owners Andrew Bayard and Metro Councilman John Delgado acquired the space in early August. Since then, Bayard and a crew have been renovating the space, building an outside bar with a covering, and adding tables to the outside patio and booths to the interior. The configuration of the bar’s stage was also changed. Unlike its predecessor, Brickyard South will not be a full-scale live music venue, Bayard says. "We'll have a mix of cover bands and original acts," he says. "It will be a couple times a month, but this is more or less an entertainment venue that supplements with live music. We're more concerned with having a fun atmosphere that's like a dive bar." Unlike Huey's, which is also owned by Bayard and Delgado and focuses on classic cocktails, Brickyard South's drink selection will focus primarily on canned and bottled beers and pre-made shots. The bar will...

Level looking to purchase more lots in Rouzan, Engquist says

Outside of the real estate community it may have gone largely unnoticed when, in late August, Level Construction and Development acquired 21 lots in Rouzan for $1.43 million, or a little over $68,300 per lot. But the deal is significant for the TND, which has been ever so slowly getting off the ground since 2008. It marks the first time a major builder has come in to develop a significant chunk of inventory in the project, much of which developer Tommy Spinosa has—until now—done through his own construction company. What's more, Level is a solid, aggressive company and its owner, John Engquist, has deep pockets and a keen interest in Rouzan, which is located off Perkins Road near the Southdowns neighborhood. Engquist has already started on the 21 lots and has his eyes on more. "I think if this development goes like we think it will we'll get through these lots very...

Andrews: Long-term, fixed-rate commercial financing remains elusive

I've been speaking with my banker friends recently about trends in commercial real estate finance and have been told of an increase in borrower requests for long-term, fixed-rate (LTFR) financing. The request makes sense, given that rates are currently at historically low levels and some economists are projecting increases in 2015. The challenge is that banks typically do not fix rates beyond three to five years without some extenuating circumstance, such as a strong borrower, a strong tenant, low leverage or a combination of such factors. Of course there will always be stories told by a borrower who reports to having received such financing from a bank, but those situations will be the exception rather than the rule. The bankers I spoke with agreed, saying that they might entertain a LTFR loan for the strongest deals, but that their banks would not have any special programs available. There certainly might be some banks that have put together a special pool of funds available for...

Cook: Rickey Heroman's Florist building new shopping center near Bass Pro Shops

Rickey Heroman's Florist has purchased a 1.5-acre site on Bass Pro Boulevard in Denham Springs for construction of a new shopping center that will house the florist. The property is situated near the Bass Pro Shops outdoors superstore. The sale closed last week for $936,805, or about $14.33 per square foot, and was brokered by Joe Moore at Re/Max First and John Buzzell at NAI/Latter & Blum. Heroman, who purchased the property under HS Family Properties, intends to construct a 15,000-square-foot retail center that will be designed by Ritter Maher Architects and constructed by Cangelosi Ward. "We pre-leased about 60% of the center," says Buzzell, who is marketing the center. "Rickey Heroman's Florist will occupy about 4,500 square feet, and we have leases to Firehouse Subs and Red Wing Shoes, too. We have had strong interest in the remaining space, but are looking for the right tenant." Construction should begin sometime in the next few weeks.

La. agencies paying above-market office rental rates to Benson, audit says

Louisiana state agencies are paying above-market rates to rent office space from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, and the state is paying $625,000 for space it isn't using, according to an audit released today. As The Associated Press reports, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office reviewed the lease, which was negotiated by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration in 2009 as part of a package of incentives that replaced a previous state deal with the NFL team. The deal keeps the Saints in New Orleans through 2025 and scrapped direct cash incentive payments the state had been making to Benson, in exchange for improvements to the New Orleans Superdome and the office lease arrangement. The Jindal administration has said the deal saves the state millions it would have paid under the old deal, while also keeping an economic driver for the state. Louisiana entered into a long-term lease to rent about 323,000 square feet of office space in downtown New Orleans from Benson's company Zelia...

RDA member buys former Pizza Hut property near Ardendale project

House on the Hill LLC, an entity attached to a Beauregard Town development project led by Susan Turner, who also sits on the board of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, has purchased property near the Ardendale development, an ongoing RDA project. House on the Hill bought the site of a closed Pizza Hut at 5175 Florida Blvd. for $154,500 from the Bank of New Orleans, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The property sits near the intersection of Melrose and Florida boulevards, about a mile from the proposed Ardendale site. Ardendale will be a mixed-use development that includes community college buildings and a career academy high school set to open in 2016. —Kelly Connelly

MAPP part of joint venture tapped for LSU Taylor Hall construction

Skanska USA announced this morning that it has signed a $54 million contract to handle the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall on the LSU campus. Skanska USA, whose parent company is headquartered in Sweden, says it will construct the project in a 70/30 joint venture with Baton Rouge-based MAPP Construction. Construction of the expansion to Taylor Hall—which will add approximately 126,000 square feet of classrooms, student support areas, engineering wet labs, office space, research labs and a new 200-seat auditorium—is set to begin in November. Work to renovate the existing building will begin in January, Skanska says. The LSU College of Engineering will see its available space in the hall, which currently measures about 306,000 square feet, double when the project is completed in June 2017. LSU announced in February that the College of Engineering had exceeded...

'Business Report': Can Tigerland be saved?

In 1971, 19-year-old Don White moved out of the Sigma Chi fraternity house on the LSU campus and into a brand-new apartment in Tigerland. As Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel notes in her cover story from the new issue, the neighborhood was less than a year old at that time. And White, then a sophomore, was doing what hundreds of other LSU students were doing: moving off-campus to Baton Rouge's hottest new neighborhood. "There was a lot of building activity going on back then," says White, who now owns and manages four Tigerland apartment complexes. "Tigerland was the place to live." While Tigerland remained a desirable location throughout the 1970s, by the 1980s it had begun a downward spiral that continued through the 1990s and reached its nadir sometime in the mid-2000s. "Today, Tigerland's future seems more questionable than ever," writes Riegel. "In the past three years alone, more than 1,700 units of new, upscale student housing have been completed around...

Commercial redevelopment planned next to downtown Raising Cane's

Downtown property owner Mike Crouch says he's ready to begin redeveloping the 4,000-square-foot, ground-floor space that is adjacent to Raising Cane's in his building at Florida Boulevard and North Third Street. For the past several months, Crouch has been preoccupied with the residential space on the second floor of the building, which is being redeveloped into three high-end apartments that will be available for short-term and corporate lease. Now, he is ready to turn his attention to the commercial space, which fronts Florida Boulevard and is next to Cane's. "It could be restaurant or retail," Crouch says. "We're not really sure yet but we have several people who are interested in it ,so we don't think it will be a problem." Crouch, who bought the historic building last year for $1.2 million, declines to discuss the status of negotiations over the neon Coca-Cola sign that sits...

LSU-area condos purchased for $575K

An LSU-area condominium complex has been purchased by S.B.M.D. LLC for $575,000, according to land sale records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Records refer to the 10-unit complex as University Place Condominium. The complex, at 428 E. Boyd Drive, faces Janet Avenue and includes parking. The LLC is directed by Stanley Bienasz, an anesthesiologist who works with the Baton Rouge General hospitals. He bought the property from Lafayette-based BJD Properties LLC, represented by George William Buller III. Bienasz was not available for comment on his plans for the property as of this afternoon's deadline. Other recent land transactions of note filed with the clerk of court include:
• M & M Plumbing, located at 6757 Complex Drive, bought the building it was leasing for $304,000, according to Thomas Murray, a business partner.

Andrews: Local economic, housing prospects rosier than national outlook for rest of 2014

The good folks at Fannie Mae have reviewed our nation's economic progress over the first half of the year and have both good news and bad news for us. In a recent news release, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan notes improvements in the general economy and projects good things for the rest of 2014. "The August outlook supports our expectation that the economy will grow in the second half of the year at slightly above trend and push full-year growth into positive territory, albeit still weak by historical standards," says Duncan. "We expect the forecast will get a boost from consumer spending, which appears positive in the current quarter given the improving trends in personal income and hiring." But he doesn't have such positive things to say about the housing sector. "With respect to housing's contribution to growth this year, we have downgraded our outlook following the...

Cook: Local brokers open new Sperry Van Ness firm

Steve Legendre, Ben Graham and Justin Langlois have opened a new local commercial brokerage firm in association with Sperry Van Ness, a national franchise. "We partnered with Sperry Van Ness because it will give us a nationwide presence and provide referrals from sources we may not have gotten otherwise. The company will give us a national reach, coupled with local expertise," says Langlois. "It was the right time to make a move because the market is beginning to expand and we wanted to take advantage of that. The software that Sperry Van Ness provides is agent focused. The ease at which it does the mundane task of paperwork, allows the agent to do what they are supposed to do, which is get out and sell." The new company will be housed at 6160 Perkins Road, in exactly the same suite where Mike Falgoust and Edward Rotenberg opened as Sealy Falgoust Commercial Real Estate years ago. "All three new owners have worked together, either at the same company or on brokerage deals, over the...

Livingston has first site certified as development ready through LED program

A 93-acre site in Livingston Parish has become the first parcel of land in the parish certified as development ready through a program of Louisiana Economic Development, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Livingston Economic Development Council announced this morning. The land comprises the remaining available acreage in the Livingston Parish Industrial Park, located in Walker. Across the Capital Region, there are 20 LED Certified Sites. LED began the program in 2010, working with landowners and local officials to ensure sites are shovel-ready for major project development. To become a certified site, the property must either have all utilities and infrastructure in place, or have approved engineering plans to provide the utility infrastructure within 180 days. "Certified sites are crucial for the Baton Rouge area to succeed in securing new business," says Iain Vasey, BRAC's executive director of business development, in a prepared statement. "BRAC encourages industrial and commercial...

Right place, right time

It's a market situation that gets real estate professionals excited: As supply and demand begin to converge, deals happen quickly and prices start to rise.

This new house

As demographics and preferences change, so, too, do our ideals about a home.

The TOPS effect

When the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students was created by the Legislature more than 20 years ago, the idea was to keep Louisiana's best and brightest students in the state. Not only has TOPS kept them here, but it is has kept them well—often in spiffy new digs tricked out with high-end amenities.

Can Tigerland be saved?

In 1971, 19-year-old Don White moved out of the Sigma Chi fraternity house on the LSU campus and into a brand-new apartment in Tigerland. The neighborhood was less than a year old, and White, then a sophomore, was doing what hundreds of other LSU kids were at the time: moving off-campus to Baton Rouge's hottest new neighborhood.

First phase of River District moving toward fruition

Two firms that specialize in developing multifamily complexes are negotiating with the Lafayette-based developers of the proposed River District to do the first phase of apartments at the site. Architect Steve Oubre, who is working with developers Dalis Waguespack and Michael Moreno on the project, says the brother-sister team is in talks with two firms about developing the first phase of residential units, which would number between 140 and 200. It has been more than five months since the Planning Commission approved the concept plan for the River District, a proposed mixed-use project that would straddle Nicholson Drive between LSU and downtown. Oubre says Moreno and Waguespack will remain master developers of the project but always intended to bring in other developers to work on the first phase of residential and commercial development. Oubre also says he hopes to begin...

Level buys 21 Rouzan lots for $1.43M

Level Construction and Development LLC has bought 21 lots in the Rouzan development located near the Glasgow Avenue and Perkins Road intersection for $1.43 million, or a little over $68,300 per lot. "It's a tremendous location, it's a great concept, and we feel very strongly about it," Level partner Todd Waguespack says. "It just needs some momentum." Rouzan has seen its hiccups, including the six years it spent tied up in a zoning conflict and opposition from its neighbors in the Southdowns community. But Waguespack says Rouzan is over the hump. "It's going to create a market and grow from there," he says. Waguespack says he hopes to price 1,400- to 2,500-square-foot homes for between $330,000 and $460,000. When complete, the plans for Rouzan call for a retail component, office...

Apartment complexes in north BR sell for $3.6M

A Connecticut-based realty group has purchased three apartment complexes in north Baton Rouge for $3.6 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court today. Included in the sale are the Oak Village Apartments at 1616 North Harco Drive, as well as the La Belle Aire Apartments and Centurion Arms Apartments, both of which are listed at the address 1710 North Marque Ann Drive. The complexes are all located at adjoining properties, north of Florida Boulevard and between North Sherwood Forest Drive and North Flannery Road. They collectively include 329 apartments over roughly 14 acres, plus about 550 parking spaces. Doing business as 1500 Lorene LLC, the buyer is Kevin O'Brien, whose O'Brien Realty Group is based in Connecticut and has offices in North Carolina, Colorado and New Orleans. O'Brien could not be reached for comment on his plans for the apartment complexes in time for this afternoon’s publication deadline. According to its...

Cook: Geaux Clean car wash buys Prairieville site for new location

Geaux Clean Express Car Wash has purchased a 1.75-acre site in Prairieville to build its third automated car wash in the Capital Region. The property is located just off La. 73 near the Interstate 10 interchange, directly behind the Simpson Automotive facility that sits on the corner of La. 73 and C Braud Road. The deal closed on Aug. 14 at a total price of $727,495.56, or about $9.50 per square foot. "The new Express Wash will occupy about 50% of the site, and the other 50% will be offered for sale," says Will Adams with Property One, who brokered the transaction along with listing broker Macon Callicott. It will be Geaux Clean's third location in the Baton Rouge area. According to the company's website, it's other locations are on Wax Road in Central and on Highland Road in Baton Rouge. The property will be improved with a state-of-the-art automatic car wash. The proposed plan also calls for 20 self-service vacuum stations. Construction should begin within the next two months.

Andrews: Hurricane preparedness starts with planning

As we approach the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and having just avoided another tropical storm invading the Gulf, it is probably worthwhile to consider plans for how we would handle our real estate businesses if we were hit by another storm. There are several excellent resources for general preparedness, including the American Red Cross Ready Rating system, but real estate issues are more specific and require a bit of additional planning. For instance, how would you track and collect rent if computer systems were down? One manager I spoke with says that he now creates a manual listing for the upcoming month that does not rely on Internet access for recordkeeping. He's also created a manual procedure for the collection of rent as well as the handling of the cash and checks received. These were lessons learned from previous storms when he was not in a position to collect the rent in a secure or organized manner. Also,...

Capital Region home sales rise 2% in July

Home sales in the eight-parish Capital Region rose 2% in July compared to the same month last year. According to the latest monthly report from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, released this afternoon, home sales totaled 856 last month, which was 17 more than were recorded during the month last year. The average sales price declined 2.9% to $196,914. Home sales in East Baton Rouge Parish were up 1.5% last month—at 688, compared to 678 in July last year. Ascension Parish saw its sales climb by 36% last month, with 248 total sales compared to 179 during the month in 2013. Livingston Parish home sales declined 7.2% during the month, with 192 sales compared to 207 last year in July. Seven months into 2014 sales in the eight-parish region are tracking 3.2% better than they were last year. A total of 5,262 homes have been sold in the Capital Region this year, compared to 5,097 in 2013 through July. The year-to-date average sales price is $199,879 this year through...

Clements puts 32 acres at River Park on the market

Developer Pete Clements says he is negotiating with two national real estate developers, both of whom are interested in buying large tracts of his planned River Park development and building apartments at the site near Hollywood Casino. Clements listed for sale 32.3 acres of the 36-acre downtown site, which he has been trying for several years to develop into a mixed-use development on the riverfront with entertainment venues, multi-family residential complexes, retail and office space. National real estate broker CBRE is listing the property on its website for an undisclosed price. Clements says since he began working with CBRE earlier this year he met with several potential buyers and is now down to two. One is interested in buying some land and partnering with Clements in a joint-venture to develop other parts of it. The other buyer is interested only in buying...

Time Out Lounge owners looking for new location

The owners of Time Out Lounge are beginning anew in their search for a new location for the bar, which was displaced when a December fire destroyed the Old Hammond Highway location that the bar had called home for seven years. On Wednesday evening, the Metro Council voted 8-2 to reject a rezoning request that would have allowed Kathleen and Jerome Byers to reopen the Time Out Lounge at 3180 Valley St., just off Perkins Road, behind the Bin Q liquor store. "We really weren't surprised because we went into the meeting knowing we were pretty much defeated," Kathleen Byers says this morning. The Southside Civic Association opposed the rezoning request, with representatives telling the council they don't want to see the addition of any bars in the area. Also, on Monday evening, the Planning Commission had

DSLD buys lots for Magnolia Lakes, Lake at Anselmo subdivisions

Denham Springs-based home builder DSLD has purchased additional lots for the third filings of two separate subdivisions in the Capital Region. DSLD bought 50 lots for the Magnolia Lakes subdivision off of Burbank Drive for $2.4 million from Magnolia Lakes LLC, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. It also bought 12 lots for the Lake at Anselmo neighborhood, just off Perkins Road between Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard, for $480,000 from Level Ventures LLC. DSLD partner Saun Sullivan told Daily Report after the company's second filing in Magnolia Lakes that it had a total of 100 lots at that time. DSLD prices homes in that neighborhood from $180,000 to almost $250,000. CFO Jeff Purpera Jr. said in April that he expects houses in the Lake at Anselmo to sell in a comparable range, for between $190,000 and $250,000. Construction on the second wave of Lake at Anselmo homes got underway early this summer. Purpera said the company plans to...

New planning director begins rewriting BR zoning code

The Planning Commission at its meeting Monday night gave Planning Director Frank Duke the green light to begin rewriting several areas of the city-parish zoning code that he believes are problematic—among them, the ordinance that governs the Historic Preservation Commission. Duke, who has been on the job since mid-June, says he's a big supporter of the HPC, which was created to regulate land use in the city's two historic districts and has often found itself in the crosshairs. But he believes the ordinance governing the agency is complicated and convoluted. "This ordinance requires a Certificate of Appropriateness for any change to the exterior of a structure—even if you cannot see what that change is going to do from the street," he says. "If you can't see it, it shouldn't be that big of a deal." Duke says he would like to simplify the HPC ordinance in order to make it easier for neighborhoods to become historic districts. At Monday's meeting, Duke also got approval to...

Andrews: Changing down payment requirements are good, bad news

Prospective homebuyers recently got a good news-bad news sort of report from Bloomberg. The bad news is that homebuyers are faced with higher down payment requirements to qualify for mortgages these days, delaying the ability for many potential first-time home buyers to own a home. Of course, these higher requirements are somewhat of a return to more traditional lending, and they get us further away from the days of easy money that tanked the housing market. Still, many of us have short-term memories and only remember those "good old days" of no money down. Requiring more of a down payment delays the purchase until buyers have saved the money needed for the loan. But this is also good news in that the pool of mortgages now being generated are of a much higher quality that will generate solid returns to mortgage investors who supply liquidity to lenders. And while this sounds like a better scenario for the big investment guys than the homeowners, we should remember that more quality...

Mid City business owners plan area improvements

An outdoor stage, green space and splash pad are in the works for the unused triangular-shaped median on Eugene Street between Boudreaux's Catering and Baton Rouge Magnet High School. The Mid City Merchants are pushing the project. Community Development Committee Chairman Coleman Brown said at a meeting this morning that the project will complement the state's plans to slim Government Street to three lanes. Brown said the area, which may be called Mid City Plaza, is projected to be 14,000 square feet. The group is also pushing several other projects, including returning Main Street and North Street to two-way roads east of Interstate 110; establishing a pedestrian crosswalk, similar to the golf cart crossing at Webb Park, where Capital Heights Avenue crosses North Foster Drive; constructing a roundabout at the intersection of Lobdell Avenue, Independence Boulevard and Government Street; and widening the entirety of Airline Highway from four to six lanes. Most of the Airline project...

Developers say reducing Government Street to three lanes won't hurt Mid City businesses

Laurence Lambert with Stantec, a development firm working with the city-parish and state to reduce Government Street from four to three lanes, told a group of Mid City business owners today that the project won't decrease the number of cars that drive by their businesses. Initial studies show that more cars may use the road because it will be more "user friendly," Lambert told a meeting of the Mid City Merchants this morning. "It's going to be easier to get in and out of your businesses," Lambert said. Lambert compared Government to a slalom ski course, with drivers rapidly changing lanes to avoid being stuck behind turning vehicles. Once Government has a turning lane and dedicated left turn lanes, Lambert said, drivers will be able to focus more on the businesses around them. Lambert said the goal is to finish designing the project by the end of the year and complete...

Metro Council to take up Time Out Lounge rezoning request Wednesday

Despite a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission on Monday evening to reject a rezoning request from owners of the Time Out Lounge to allow for the opening of a bar at 3180 Valley St., the Metro Council on Wednesday will take up the issue at its regular zoning meeting. Normally, a request that is unanimously rejected by the Planning Commission would not appear before the Metro Council, says Council Administrator Casey Cashio. However, a technicality has given the prospective bar owners another shot at having the rezoning request granted. Cashio confirms that since the issue was introduced, advertised and placed on the Metro Council zoning agenda prior to Monday evening's vote by the Planning Commission, which initially deferred the issue in late July, it will be heard Wednesday. However, because of the Planning Commission's unanimous vote against the measure, it will need to be...

Commencement for first-ever Home Builders Institute in BR is Friday

A new program aimed at teaching construction skills to area 18- to 24-year-olds who are disadvantaged, have not finished high school or do not have basic skills, will graduate its first class on Friday. Commencement exercises for the first-ever Home Builders Institute, which the Mayor's Office of Community Development is partnering with the Capital Region Builders Foundation to present, will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at the Family and Youth Service Center, 1120 Government St. The institute provides Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training curriculum over a 12-week program, including classroom, shop, lab and primary hands-on experience in carpentry, painting, electrical work, plumbing and other skills needed for careers in construction or facilities management. The mayor's office says the institute will now work closely with the Capital Region Builders Association to assist the program graduates in finding jobs in the industry. The Mayor's Office of Community Development is...

Atlanta company to invest $41.5M in West Monroe paper mill

Graphic Packaging International Inc. will spend $41.5 million in its paper mill in West Monroe to upgrade production machinery, company officials and Gov. Bobby Jindal jointly announced today. Today's announcement comes after the Atlanta-based company announced an $8.6 million enhancement and expansion of its consumer carton production in June 2012. That project created 47 new direct jobs and retained another 456 existing jobs at the company's carton sites, according to Louisiana Economic Development estimates. It also enabled the company to quadruple container production at the consumer carton plant and introduce new packaging for beverage product lines that saved 15,000 tons of paper annually and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 32%. LED says the investment announced today will retain a total of 1,340 employees at the company's three Louisiana sites. The state is providing Graphic Packaging an incentive package for its latest investment that includes a $720,000 Modernization...

Cook: Louisiana Culinary Institute buys office warehouse

Event Holdings LLC, an affiliate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute, has purchased an office warehouse on a 1 acre site at the corner of Jefferson Highway and Arnold Road. The seller, Topaz of Louisiana Inc., was represented by Scot Guidry of Mike Falgoust & Associates Commercial Real Estate. The culinary institute was represented by Bobby Smith of NAI/Latter & Blum. Topaz was an industrial pipe line contractor and had occupied the building since 1977 when it was constructed for their use. "In 1977 there was very little other development around the building but as the city grew up around it the building began to have more of an upscale potential," Guidry explains. The property is zoned C-2 commercial and includes about 8,500 square feet, of which 2,500 square feet is office space and 6,000 square feet is warehouse. The sale closed for $722,500, or about $90 per square foot. "I don't think we would have gotten $90 per square foot if the building were located inside an industrial...

Transforming Mid City

On Aug. 18, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority was scheduled to select one of two firms to do a $190,000 predevelopment plan for 115 blighted acres of inner-city property that sit between downtown, which is being transformed into a model live-work-play district, and Mid City, which is slowly being reborn as a funky, trendy arts district.

Marsh Master buys site

A company that manufactures amphibious marsh vehicles has purchased a .92-acre lot on Highland Road with plans to expand.

Ardendale cleanup, property transfer approved by RDA

Plans for the Baton Rouge Community College's first buildings in the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority's Ardendale mixed-use development are closer to fruition. Two elements of the first phase of the development, located between Ardenwood Drive and Lobdell Boulevard, were approved by the RDA at this morning's meeting. The authority approved a contract worth $536,000 with Baton Rouge-based Wilson Kimble Contractors Inc. to clear out the area and ready it for construction. The job includes drainage projects that will work to satisfy the Army Corp of Engineers' environmental mitigation requirements for the development. The RDA also approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, its foundation and state departments. The development will see three buildings go up over the next two years, James Andermann, an RDA project manager,...

New Beauregard Town apartments in the works

Beauregard Quarters, a new apartment complex in the permitting stages a block south of North Blvd., will open up more residential space in the downtown area. Steve Duplechain, the developer and manager of the $3 million project, says construction will begin as soon as permitting and fire marshal review is complete. Construction is expected to take a year. Duplechain says the four-story, 25-unit complex will include 15 two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom apartments. It will face Napoleon Street at its intersection with America Street. The property spans three currently vacant lots. "We'll start promoting occupancies 90 days before we expect completion," Duplechain says. Covered parking, secure parking and some garage parking are planned.—Kelly Connelly

Home builder buys land for new subdivision in Central

Central-based Dunbar Construction LLC has purchased approximately 33 acres of land on the corner of Sullivan Road and Sparkle Drive for $1 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Home builder Justin Jackson, founder and owner of the company, says Dunbar aims to develop a residential neighborhood on the property, but adds that plans are still in the early phases. "We'd like to start construction next summer," Jackson says, "but we're waiting on the road to be finished right here—on Sullivan Road, which should be finished hopefully by next summer." Jackson says the subdivision will comprise approximately 80 lots, and homes will range from about 1,800 to 3,000 square feet. His company hasn't yet decided on a name for the neighborhood, Jackson says. "We're still working with the city" to get the details worked out, he says. —Rachel Alexander

Judge rules in dispute over chilled water between Spinosa, Cinemark at Perkins Rowe

A federal judge has granted a partial victory to developer Tommy Spinosa in his long-running lawsuit with Cinemark Theatres over chilled water rates at Perkins Rowe. U.S. District Judge James Brady issued the ruling Aug. 6, nearly four months after a trial was held to determine whether Spinosa's water-chilling plant, Central Facilities Operating Company, has been overcharging the theater for the chilled water it needs to operate the air conditioner. Cinemark has maintained that CFOC's rates are unreasonably high and has, therefore, not paid for chilled water since opening at Perkins Rowe in 2007. CFOC says those unpaid bills amount to nearly $846,000. Cinemark contends that, based on fair market rates for chilled water, it should only owe about $235,000. In his ruling, Brady says the rate charged by CFOC was reasonable. He also denies Cinemark's claim that Spinosa defrauded the theater...

Demolition underway on vacant portion of Esplanade Mall

If you've driven past the Interstate 10 at College Drive exit over the last day, you may have noticed work crews demolishing the long-vacant space in the back of the Esplanade Mall, which fronts Corporate Boulevard and includes such tenants as Sullivan's, Hooter's and the Melting Pot. Though details are scarce about the nature of the work, a permits officer at the Department of Public Works says Picou Brothers Construction Co. filed for a demolition permit to tear down the 30,000-square-foot space that formerly housed a bank services center. It sits in the rear of the 100,000-square-foot shopping center and has been vacant for several years. The property is owned by Richard Hartley and David Vey, who acquired it out of bankruptcy in 1993 for $3.5 million. They decline to comment on their plans for the property. Leasing agent Scott Bankston says he is not at liberty to comment. Agents with the property manager, NAI/Latter & Blum, say they are unaware of Hartley and Vey's plans. The...