Content tagged “Construction and property”

Sarepta Homes purchases lots in Burbank subdivision for $586,200

Local construction company Sarepta Homes Inc. has purchased 10 vacant lots of the third filing of University Villas, a subdivision on Burbank Drive between Lee Drive and Staring Lane, for approximately $586,200, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The individual lots ranged in price from $50,000 to $60,000, and a legal description of the land declares that homes on the lots shall each have a minimum living area of 1,600 square feet and include a two-car garage or carport. University Village Development LLC, represented by Arthur Lancaster, was the seller in the deal. In two separate transactions in 2012, Sarepta Homes purchased 10 lots from each of the first two filings of the subdivision for $500,000 each and has been building homes on the lots since then, according to Sarepta owner Bonnie Ferrell's professional website. Earlier this month, Ferrell

HPC approves restoration plans for Spanish Town apartments

The Historic Preservation Commission this morning granted a historic designation for one of the two Dupree Apartment buildings in Spanish Town. Also at its meeting this morning, the commission OK'd a certificate of appropriateness for both of the Dupree buildings—located at 607 and 609 Spanish Town Road, one of which will be restored while the other will be demolished and rebuilt—says HPC Vice Chairman Bill Huey. Owners Robert Lay and Ben Stalter acquired the two 2,500-square-foot, two-story apartment buildings—built in 1924 but badly damaged in a December 2009 fire—late last year. Last month, they submitted an application to the city-parish Planning Commission and HPC to demolish and reconstruct one of the buildings, which was damaged beyond repair, and...

Trying for a turnaround

After months of battling quality control problems that have affected the taste and shelf life of Kleinpeter Farms Dairy milk, CEO Jeff Kleinpeter says the company continues to work hard to restore the quality of its products and is inviting customers back to “try the taste you have grown to love.”

James "Jim" Beard

In this issue of Business Report, Beard Construction Group is ranked No. 63 in the Top 100 List of Private Companies, up from No. 86 in 2013. But its president, James "Jim" Beard, isn't one to rest on laurels: "I always seem to be focused on the next quarter or the next business year, always trying to figure out where the next job is going to come from." Still, he recalls appreciatively the firm's early days, in 2004, when he and his partners didn't yet have an office. "Mr. Louis Witty, the dad of one of the partners, allowed us to clean out his garage and set up shop there," Beard says. "We each took a corner and hit the ground running." Their first contract: a landfill project in Alabama following Hurricane Ivan. "After that, things took off at a much faster rate than we imagined possible," he says. The civil construction firm's headquarters went up in Port Allen in 2005, providing easy access to Interstate 10. BCG has completed projects across the Gulf South and beyond,...

Magnolia Square buzz

Scott Rabalais of Rabalais Homes has purchased a 2.85-acre tract in the Village at Magnolia Square off Lovett Road in Central for $990,000.

Who's on the board

This organization incorporated in 1980 is a statewide nonprofit trade association of contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and associates who work to advance the construction industry by aggressively supporting the merit shop philosophy and the free enterprise alliance.

Nouveau tradition

See more photos of the City Club.
At its august quarters on North Boulevard and Fourth Street, the City Club has long been a haven for Baton Rouge's business and social elite.
It's a place where top deals are made, clients are signed and connections are forged. Longtime members refer to the club's veteran waiters by name, and waiters, in turn, can quickly anticipate the members' needs.
For many up-and-comers, holding stock in the City Club is a social right of passage. Some of them will one day serve on the facility's board of directors.

Florline Commons outparcel buildings at Cortana Mall sold for $11.85M

A California-based investment group has purchased Florline Commons—a collection of outparcel buildings at Cortana Mall totaling 202,200 square feet and including several big-box stores—for $11.85 million, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Jeffrey Seltzer of Tarzana, California-based Highpoint Capital Group, represented the purchasing group, HPC Florline Holdings LLC. Although Seltzer confirmed the purchase of the outparcel properties to Daily Report today, he could not confirm the exact buildings included in the deal or further discuss plans for them. The properties were collectively put up for sale to the highest bidder in October last year. According to a listing from Cushman & Wakefield at that time, Florline Commons was developed between 1985 and 2002 and was 89% leased when it was put on the block, with tenants...

Vacant Wendy's on Florida sells for $475K

The former Wendy's restaurant at 10828 Florida Blvd., near the intersection of Sharp Road, has been purchased for $475,000 by 10828 Florida Boulevard LLC, represented by Charles M. Loescher II, a Slidell-based broker, developer and investor. The restaurant has been vacant for some time, and Loescher says he has no immediate plans for the building. He says he purchased the property as an investment and is hoping to land a national tenant for it, adding he's not exclusively looking for a restaurant tenant. Since closing on the property—which includes just under 1 acre of total land—on July 7, Loescher says he has already received some interest from prospective tenants. The seller was Diamond Land Company LLC, represented by Donald L. Feinstein, who is also board chairman of Stockton, California-based Diamond Food Co. —Diana Pietrogallo

DaVita Scotlandville Dialysis Center sells for $1.83M in north BR

Howell Boulevard LLC has purchased the newly constructed DaVita Scotlandville Dialysis Center in Howell Place Subdivision—a multi-use commercial and industrial park in north Baton Rouge adjacent to the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport—for $1.83 million from 5265 Vance LLC, represented by Vincent Curran Jr., according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The facility at 7797 Howell Blvd. opened to commercial patients on June 30 and is awaiting Medicare certification, which could take from several months up to a year. It's located north of the ExxonMobil YMCA and south of the Hilton Garden Inn. The clinic operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two other DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. dialysis clinics are open in the metro area, one on O'Neal Lane and another in Gonzales. Other recent real estate transactions of note, as recorded with the clerk of court, include:

UniFirst plans $6M facility near Cortana Mall

UniFirst, the national uniform supplier that purchased 6.2 acres near Sam's Club and the Cortana Mall in August 2013, has applied for a construction permit to build a $6 million, nearly 65,000-square-foot laundry facility. The Metro Council voted to rezone the property at the northeast intersection of Tom Drive and Oak Villa Boulevard from LC3, light commercial three, to SPUD, small planned unit development, in May last year to clear the way for the project. UniFirst services 260,000 business customer locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The new facility will service businesses throughout the greater Baton Rouge market. Some of its current national customers include Walmart, Hershey's, Honeywell, Target, GE and Goodyear. UniFirst Director of Marketing and Communications Adam Soreff says that as construction gets underway and plans are finalized the company will have more information on the details for the building and schedules, although he did not have any information on when...

Andrews: Underwriting interest rates are not the same as actual rates

I was asked recently about the difference between a lender's "underwriting rate" and the "actual rate" or "note rate" that a customer would be charged on his commercial real estate debt. This issue comes up when lenders are trying to determine how much they can loan against an income-producing property, based on the property's debt coverage ratio. Take a $10 million loan request on a property where the annual net operating income is $1 million. The lender has offered a 20-year amortization with a fixed rate of 4.5% with the requirement that the net operating income cover underwritten debt service at a ratio of 1.3-to-1 or higher. At first blush the loan seems to be in great shape as the numbers work out to a coverage ratio of 1.32-to-1, which exceeds the lender's minimum requirement. But the lender said "underwritten debt service" where the lender's minimum underwriting interest rate is 5.25%. If you run the debt service numbers again using this higher underwriting rate, the coverage...

Cook: Atlas Dermatology buys Burgin Avenue building for new clinic

Atlas Dermatology, which is operated by Dr. Trent Massengale, has purchased a 4,000-square-foot building at 163 Burgin Ave. for a new general dermatology clinic. The building most recently was occupied by Rogers and McDaniel Antiques and Interiors. The sale closed on Tuesday, July 8, for $535,000, which works out to about $133.75 per square foot. The deal was brokered by Tigue Bonneval with Beau Box Commercial Real Estate and Danny Watts with Saurage Rotenberg Real Estate. "Dr. Massengale really liked the location just off Highland Road near its intersection with Lee Drive, and the building has real character," says Bonneval. The building was reportedly designed by A. Hays Town and had been continually improved by Rogers and McDaniel. The property includes a very nice courtyard, and the interior is unique. Massengale will renovate it for his dermatology clinic, but it will not be your standard medical space. "We want the waiting room to be very inviting, and we intend to put in an...

'Business Report': Is BR losing new business for lack of large commercial workspaces?

By the summer of 2012, state and local officials had spent the better part of two years wooing IBM. As Business Report staff writer David Jacobs details in a feature from the current issue, the courtship hit a snag when the company couldn't find 100,000 square feet of suitable office space. Ultimately, the state, East Baton Rouge Parish and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation all got together to build and fund what will one day become IBM Services Center: Baton Rouge. Like IBM, many companies are having trouble finding large, high-quality office space in the Baton Rouge area. While few businesses need 100,000 square feet, fewer still command the attention of multiple levels of government and a wealthy foundation. Which means if other companies don't find what they're looking for, they might just move on to the next city. "We think that we're probably feeling [a negative] economic effect of not having enough commercial space," says Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge...

Level Homes expanding into Florida market

Baton Rouge-based Level Homes announced today that it's entering the Florida residential market with two new community developments in the Sarasota area. One of the projects, called Bayshore, will include 23 single-family homes, while another called Golden Gate will be a downtown condo project with 15 units. Level Homes Managing Member Todd Waguespack—Business Report's 2014 Young Businessperson of the Year—first unveiled the company's plans for expansion into Florida earlier this year, saying they hoped to be in the state by the middle of 2014. Level Homes calls itself one of the fastest-growing residential builders in the Southeast. In 2012 it branched into the North Carolina market, and it has since moved into South Carolina as well. Today the...

Bristol Place Apartments on Siegen sells for $38.25M

Bristol Place Apartments, a 312-unit complex at 5960 Siegen Lane that is 98% occupied, has been sold to Miami-based investment group Pensam Capital for $38.25 million. The seller of the complex—which was built in 2008 and consists of a total of nearly 282,000 square feet of rentable space across 10 three-story buildings, as well as a three-story parking garage—was AMG Bristol Place LLC, which is represented by a number of partners including A.C. Lewis Management. "We purchased Bristol Place Apartments in December of 2011 for $32.45 million and had concessions in place of over $30,000 per month," says A.C. "Bubba" Lewis in a prepared statement. "We were able to eliminate the concessions while maintaining a high occupancy, increasing the value and generating a significant return to the investors." The sale price works out to $122,596 per unit. The sale closed on Friday. A.C. Lewis Management, which has managed the property for the past two and a half years, says it was one...

Perkins Road retail center sells for $640K

The retail center at 10889 Perkins Road, which is located in the second filing of Wimbledon Estates and is home to Salon Chateau, Sugar Belle, Big Fish Presentations and Piano Pathways, has been purchased by LLPHAM LLC, represented by Lan Phuong Vu, for $640,000. According to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court, the seller was Karma Properties LLC, represented by Dr. Sheetal Verma-Bueche and Madhu Bhushan. The new owner says her tenants will remain and she has no immediate plans for changes to the building. Other recent real estate transactions of note recorded with the clerk of court include:

Land behind Raising Cane's on Corporate sells for $785K

An approximately 2-acre tract on Bankers Avenue, just off College Drive and behind the Raising Cane's restaurant at 5211 Corporate Blvd., sold to Mihir Enterprises LLC for $785,000, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Bankers Avenue Investments LLC, represented by Ashwin Sura, was the seller in the deal. Back in 2007, Bankers Avenue Investments purchased the land for $744,000 from Raising Cane's, which acquired the property in 2006 from Hills For College LLC for $573,500. At the time, a broker representing Hills For College LLC in the deal told Daily Report that Cane's was considering constructing a headquarters building on the plot. It is unclear what Mihir Enterprises LLC—represented by Shardulsinh Sayania—has planned for the site. —Rachel Alexander

Demolition of Broadmoor Theatre, neighboring building planned

To make way for additional parking at the Broadmoor Village Shopping Center—which will welcome a new Hi Nabor grocery store later this fall—the demolition of a 42,000-square-foot building neighboring the Broadmoor Theatre is expected to get underway in the next few days, says Austin Earhart of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate. The demolition of the theater is also planned, but Earhart says there's no hard timeline for that project just yet. "What's holding up the theater is that it's still occupied by [Randolph] Ogden, who subleases some of the space to a number of tenants and makes pretty good money on it," Earhart explains. "So, no one can blame him for wanting to stay in there, but the lease for the Hi Nabor store does require that the theater be demolished, and there are ongoing negotiations to work out when that will happen." As Daily Report has previously reported,

Andrews: Fewer foreclosures in La. means more price stability

It's not a topic we like to think about, but foreclosures are a natural part of the real estate finance landscape. They're the result of several factors, some of which are under the control of borrowers and some of which are not. And for whatever reason, they're still happening. Total home foreclosures in Louisiana are down from a year ago, and the local rate is lower than that of peer states that take back homes via judicial foreclosure (a process that takes far more time than nonjudicial foreclosure). According to the most recent CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report, published in May, Louisiana had 1.4% of its homes in foreclosure (lower than the national average) with 4.7% of mortgages in serious delinquency (a little higher than the national average, but lower than average among judicial foreclosure states). Well, so what? My home isn't in foreclosure so why do I care about these figures? Foreclosure inventory can negatively impact everyone in a neighborhood where lenders have...

Cook: Concord Park lots sell

Sales of vacant land are few and far between in older established subdivisions like Concord Park, located off College Drive and Perkins Road. Brian Andrews will recognize this as the subdivision that houses the Penthouse Club, just behind Hobby Lobby. Anyway, two lots on Old Forge Drive have sold for $223,800, or just above $6.75-per-square-foot for the 32,895-square-foot site. The property was brokered by Drew Pearson and Robert Pettit with Waters & Pettit Commercial Real Estate. The seller was Colony Spices Limited, represented by Ann M. Naquin, and the buyer was Old Forge Holdings LLC, represented by Donald L. David. According to Pearson, the new owners have no immediate plans for the property.
(Appraiser Tom Cook owns Cook Moore and Associates. Reach him at 293-7006 or

The office shortage

By the summer of 2012, state and local officials had spent the better part of two years wooing IBM. The courtship hit a snag, officials said last year, when the company couldn't find 100,000 square feet of suitable office space.

Calloway Inn & Suites sells for $3M

The Calloway Inn & Suites at 10920 Mead Road, off Sherwood Forest Boulevard and near Interstate 12, is under new ownership. Baton Rouge Hoteliers LLC is the new owner, and Raj Hospitality LLC is the new managing entity. They took over the hotel on Thursday, says Britt Thompson, spokesperson for the companies. According to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court, Baton Rouge Hoteliers purchased the hotel—which has 125 rentable rooms—for $3 million. "We're in the process of revamping each department," Thompson says, adding that the company expects to increase business by 12% to 20%. "We're also going to add some food and beverage operations over here and attempt to get the meeting space ready for conventions and/or day meetings." Calloway has three meeting rooms that total about 3,500 square feet, as well as a breakfast room. While the breakfast room wasn't in use under previous ownership, Thompson says Calloway should be offering complimentary...

Central shopping center sells for $2.47M

Central's City Market Shopping Center, located at 18564 Magnolia Bridge Road, has been sold for approximately $2.47 million, says Justin Langlois of Mike Falgoust & Associates Commercial Real Estate, who represented the seller in the deal. Built in 2007 and patterned off of a shopping center in Destin, Florida, City Market is located 2.5 miles from Wax and Sullivan roads, an intersection Langlois calls the "epicenter" of Central. "It's located right at the base of the bridge that takes you from East Baton Rouge Parish to Livingston," Langlois says, "so it's strategically located. If you want to go to Denham Springs, you kind of have to cross over Magnolia Bridge Road." The roughly 18,000-square-foot, 14-suite shopping center houses about eight tenants, he says, including Chris' Specialty Meats and local doggie daycare Smooch My Pooch, but has approximately 3,800 square feet of space available for additional tenants. Because the shopping center is only seven years old, Langlois says...

Winn-Dixie on Coursey sells for $6.14M

The Winn-Dixie grocery store at 13002 Coursey Blvd. on the corner of Stumberg Lane has sold for $6.14 million—approximately $1 million more than what the same property sold for late last year—according to land records filed today with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Phoenix, Arizona-based Cole Credit Property Trust V Inc., a subsidiary of American Realty Capital Properties doing business as ARCP GS Baton Rouge LA LLC, purchased the 7.4-acre property as an investment "consistent with the investment strategy of acquiring net-lease real estate leased to high-quality tenants," says John Bacon, vice president of marketing at Cole. Bacon says the approximately 63,000-square-foot grocery store was renovated in 2014, and Cole has no immediate plans for further renovations. When asked about Winn-Dixie's future in the space, Bacon confirmed that the grocery store has a long-term lease. New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Kimco Realty, acting as Coursey 1713 LLC, was the seller in...

Construction to begin soon on homes in new Stumberg Lane subdivision

Stumberg Villas LLC has purchased an approximately 2.6-acre tract on Stumberg Lane for $925,000. The property will be the site of the first eight lots of a new subdivision by the same name—Stumberg Villas—says Bonnie Ferrell, co-managing partner of the LLC. Homes will range from 1,600 to 1,800 square feet of living area, she says, and will list in the low $200,000s. While only the first eight lots are developed at this point, Ferrell estimates the neighborhood will ultimately include between 33 and 38 lots. Plans for the remaining 25 to 30 lots are with the engineer right now, she says, and streets for those will be put in soon. Meanwhile, Ferrell says construction on the first eight homes will begin as soon as possible and is projected to take about six months. She adds that she will probably start marketing the homes as soon as the houses are framed, which should be in about three to four months. The seller in the land deal was United Community Bank, according to land...

La. home prices continue to rise in May, remain at post-recession peak

After reaching a new peak in April, Louisiana home prices were on the rise again in May. According to the latest monthly figures from CoreLogic released today, Louisiana single-family home prices, including distressed sales, rose 1.1% from April to May. And compared to the same month last year, home prices including distressed sales were up 3.3% in May, the report says. Excluding distressed sales—that is, properties under foreclosure or advertised for sale by a mortgagee—home prices in Louisiana were up 0.9% from April to May, but compared to May 2013 those prices are up 4.4%. Including distressed sales, Louisiana last reached the current peak in May 2006. Excluding distressed sales, the last time prices were this high in Louisiana was April 2006. For the nation at large, home prices have now risen for 27 straight months, according to CoreLogic's Home Price Index report.

Andrews: Exit strategies are key for home equity lines of credit

Before the financial crisis hit in 2008, one of the biggest temptations facing homeowners was to take out a home equity loan to pull cash out of their home value. Home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, were easy to get and had easy payment terms, with many carrying interest only for the term of the loan and terms up to ten years. The challenge with these products is the exit strategy, or how to repay the balance at the end of the "draw period." Borrowers will either have to 1) repay the balance in full with existing cash resources or by refinancing both the first mortgage and the HELOC, or 2) amortizing the debt over time with the HELOC lender. The challenge with paying off the HELOC through refinancing is that it might have been made when appraised values were inflated and/or the financial condition of the borrower was less of an issue than it is currently, making a refinance potentially difficult in today's environment. The challenge with the second option is that borrowers who...

Cook: Byers get back into BR development with Highland Court subdivision

Sam and Louise Byer have purchased a four-acre parcel on North Amiss Road, across from the Highland Road Park, with plans to develop a 17-lot subdivision that will be known as Highland Court. As Daily Report first reported, the sale closed on May 28. At $600,000 the sale price works out to about $150,000 per acre. The Byers intend to develop lots that are about 60 feet wide by 130 feet deep and build them out in association with Rusty Golden of LeJardin Homes. The Byers were active developers locally in the 1990s but left the area to live in Australia for a few years. "When we came back to Baton Rouge we realized that there was a real shortage of lots available, and any lots that were available were being gobbled up by the larger tract builders," says Sam Byer. "There was not a lot available for the little guy." The new development will allow for homes of around 2,300 to 3,500...

Investors buy, plan to renovate office warehouse complex off S. Sherwood

Bricksome at Sherwood, an LLC of local investment partners Mark Estep and Greg Howell, has purchased an office warehouse complex off of South Sherwood Forest Boulevard for $475,000, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The complex includes five buildings, located at 11837, 11843, 11847, 11853 and 11857 Bricksome Ave. Each building covers 2,000 to 2,100 square feet, Estep says, and is divided into four suites. Only seven of the twenty units are occupied, he says, but he and Howell expect to fill the other 13 suites after updating all five buildings with new interior flooring and exterior siding, landscaping and signage. "We're going to cater to small businesses," Estep says, adding that he owns a similar property—in which he invested in 2008—on Jamestown Court, off of College Drive. "We cater to small businesses there, and it's...

Up to $50K available in BR to some homebuyers through assistance program

Mayor Kip Holden's office announced today that prospective homebuyers can receive up to $25,000 in assistance for the purchase of existing homes and up to $50,000 on new construction under the City-Parish Office of Community Development's Homebuyer Assistance Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program provides interest-free loans as gap financing for people who might not otherwise qualify for the mortgages necessary to purchase the homes. Participating homebuyers must have not owned a home in the last three years, or they can also qualify as a displaced homemaker or single parent. They also must meet certain income limits. For example, a two-person household can earn a maximum of $42,500 per year to qualify. A household of four can earn a maximum of $53,100 annually. The interest-free loans must be paid off upon the sale or transfer of the purchased property. However, borrowers who take advantage of the program can repay the loan at any...

New US home sales surge 18.6% to highest rate in six years

New home sales last month blew past forecasts to their strongest pace in six years, the Census Bureau reported today. Sales of new homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 in May, up 18.6% from April's revised rate, the Census Bureau says. That's the highest rate since May 2008. As USA Today reports, economists had forecast an annual pace of 440,000, according to the median estimate in Action Economics' survey. Through May, new home sales are roughly flat with last year—up 0.8%. Prices, in contrast, are up sharply. The median sales price of new homes sold in May was $282,000, almost 7% above a year earlier. Sales showed wide differences by region. Census reported new home sales in the Northeast rose nearly 55% from April, 34% in the West, 14% in the South and 1.4% in the Midwest. The new home sales report was the second piece of housing data in two days that exceeded expectations. The National Association of Realtors reported Monday that sales of...

Denicola's to join Monochrome, Front Door in Nicholson warehouse

When Denicola's Furniture leaves its current location at 2931 Government St., it will join Monochrome Contemporary Furniture and The Front Door Architecture in the former St. Vincent de Paul warehouse at 1010 Nicholson Drive, says Denicola's owner Amy Strother. "We are a business right now that's divided into three locations," Strother says, noting that Denicola's restores furniture out of its workshop on North Foster Drive and stores inventory in its warehouse in north Baton Rouge in addition to operating its showroom on Government Street. "Our intention is to put everything under one roof and to be able to offer our clients a little bit more of a design-oriented experience." Denicola's will also expand its reach, offering a wider selection of fabric lines, home accessories and restored vintage pieces. The move into the 18,500-square-foot warehouse on Nicholson Drive near Interstate 10,

Andrews: Community banks increasingly under fire

Part of my process in writing this column is to research national trends and apply them to our local markets in hopes of separating the inapplicable parts from the truly useful information for participants in our local real estate and financial industries. I was struck by several recent national headlines that carried a common theme: It is becoming increasingly difficult for banks, particularly community banks, to bear the regulatory burdens being imposed by federal regulators. Without getting into the specifics, our community banks are dealing with requirements to prevent a financial crisis that decimated markets in other parts of the country but which was not felt as strongly in our markets. The most difficult issues to handle are the increased staffing needs to handle the regulatory requirements and the uncertainty of how some of the requirements are to be applied. Larger banks are able to absorb the additional overhead of hiring three or four new employees much more easily than...

Cook: Purchase of former Frenchtown Road sawmill a 'great deal' for GreenSeasons

A roughly 50-acre tract on Frenchtown Road that was once the site of a sawmill specializing in the milling of old pine and cypress lumber has been sold for $720,0000, as was recently reported by Daily Report. Jake's Vintage Trucks Inc., represented by former Amedisys CEO Bill Borne, sold the tract to Adventure Investment LLC, represented by Chris Castleberry. The property consists of 49.76 acres and includes a 17,000-square-foot office warehouse, as well as two covered sheds measuring about 12,000 square feet each. The buildings are not in good condition and will require some rehabilitation. Jonathan Starns and Travis Marshall with Donnie Jarreau Commercial Real Estate brokered the transaction, which closed June 13. Most of the site was formerly used to store wood and brick product that was salvaged from old buildings. The new owners will use the facility to house their...

A new kind of zoning

Last month, city planners and their consultants held three workshops to present a draft of new design guidelines that will be voted on later this year by the Planning Commission and Metro Council.

Who owns the block?

Property owner: Southside Daycare & Early Learning Center Inc.
Occupant: Southside Child Development Center
This child care center was founded in 1992 and currently has approximately 60 children enrolled.

High Grove to expand

High Grove Apartments has been so successful that the developer—Domain Companies, a multifamily developer out of New York—has purchased an additional 4.557 acres to build a second phase.

EBR commercial, residential permitting up in May

More commercial and residential projects in East Baton Rouge Parish received permits to proceed last month compared to the same period last year. According to new figures out from the city-parish Department of Public Works, a total of 64 commercial projects received permits in May, up from 60 last year. Residential permits, meanwhile, rose to 195 during the month, up from 148. Of the residential permits, 82 were for new single-family homes, while 109 were for remodeling projects. On the commercial side, the largest project to be permitted was the new $54.4 million Lee High campus, on which officials broke ground earlier this month. The second most valuable commercial project receiving a permit last month, at $2.5 million, is the new three-story, 32,000-square-foot office of attorney...

Hotel near Airline and I-12 sells for $3.45 million

The Magnuson Hotel, located just off Airline Highway near Interstate 12, has sold for $3.45 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Baton Rouge-based hotel management company Raj Hospitality, acting under UNR Hospitality LLC, purchased the hotel, which is located at 9999 Gwenadele Ave. According to Raj Hospitality's website, the two-story Magnuson in Baton Rouge has 125 rooms and features free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, meeting facilities and an outdoor pool. Raj Hospitality also operates the Magnuson Hotels in Port Allen and Denham Springs, as well as the La Quinta Inn & Suites on O'Neal Lane and the Best Western of Denham Springs. The seller in the deal was Madison, Ga.-based Shriya Hotels Inc. Among other notable property transfers recently filed with the Clerk of Court is the sale of an office warehouse located at 20312 Highland Road for $1.14 million to 20312 Highland Road LLC. —Rachel Alexander

St. Jean Apartments on S. Harrells Ferry sell for $35.2M

In three separate transactions, the St. Jean Apartments at 16441 South Harrells Ferry Road, on the corner of O'Neal Lane, have sold for $35.2 million, according to land records filed today with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The apartment complex operates under the Section 42 Housing Program and includes over 600 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartment units on approximately 50 acres of land, according to the complex's website. Amenities include three pools, a day care center and a playground. Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential sold the St. Jean Apartments in three phases, operating under St. Jean Limited Partnership I, II and III, respectively. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based St. Jean Clermont TIC LLC and St. Jean TIC II LLC were the buyers in the deal. —Rachel Alexander

Vacant North Flannery building to be converted into convenience store

An approximately 4,500-square-foot building at 2377 N. Flannery Road, on the corner of South Choctaw Drive, sold for $450,000 on Monday, says Bill Jeansonne of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate. Jeansonne represented the buyer, Sung Cho, who plans to open a convenience store and gas station in the space. Last used as a bar and lounge, the building has been vacant for a while, Jeansonne says. Minor renovations will be necessary to convert the space into a convenience store, and the 1.75 acres on which the building sits leave space for Cho to add the gas station component. The proposed convenience store would be Cho's second such store in south Louisiana—he's got another in Greensburg, which is in St. Helena Parish. He said he's not yet ready to reveal the Baton Rouge store's name. Jim Allen, also of Saurage Rotenberg, represented the seller—MNR Enterprises LLC—in the deal. —Rachel Alexander

Saturation point

Looking at all the recent and upcoming projects happening along Third Street, I'm wondering if there is any inch of space left to develop.

Office space available for sublease in 'The Advocate' building

The Advocate is subleasing the 25,622-square-foot space on the fifth floor of its six-story building at 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd. for $18.75 per square foot, or about $40,000 per month. Publisher John Georges, who bought The Advocate last year, says the 125,000-square-foot office building is far larger than necessary, adding that subleasing an extra floor is a way to cut down on expenses while also making better use of existing space. "It's as much about putting people closer together than trying to save money," Georges says, noting that editor Peter Kovacs, by choice, moved from a large office in a separate wing of the building to a workspace in the middle of the newsroom. "He's right in the middle of the bullpen now, so it's just a different philosophy about how to run things." This isn't the first time The Advocate is subleasing excess space in the building, which is owned by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Several years ago, when the paper was owned by the Manship...

Capital Region home sales up 8.9% in May

For the first time since February, home sales in the eight-parish Capital Region posted a year-over-year increase in May, up 8.9% over 2013 sales during the month. A total of 910 homes were sold in the region during May, according to the latest monthly report from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, released today. Sales in April were flat compared to 2013 figures, and March sales were down 14.6%. Five months into 2014, year-to-date sales are up about 2.5% over 2013 sales through May; with 3,492 sales this year, compared to 3,406 last year. GBRAR says the local housing market has been aided by an improving economy. "Locally, agents are starting to see an increase in relocation sales as large jobs projects ramp up in the area," reads a statement from GBRAR. "Increased demand, coupled with a balanced market, equals solid Baton Rouge area housing performance." Along with the closed sales increase in May, pending sales were also up 27.5%, at 1,234, compared to a year ago.

Andrews: Finding permanent financing poses potential challenge for popular infill projects

I've been watching with great interest the plans being presented in FuturEBR, the master plan for East Baton Rouge Parish guiding development for the next two decades. Included in those plans are design standards for infill locations in areas such as the Nicholson Drive and Government Street corridors. The primary architect of the plan, John Fregonese of Portland, Oregon, draws from real-world experience where such infill projects have been successfully implemented. While in Portland recently to attend my daughter's graduation (go Hannah—Summa Cum Laude!), I took the opportunity to see some of the city's infill projects, whereby multiple, single-use structures have been replaced with single, three-story structures. Most are located on major streets, with retail and office on the first level and residential units above. The product design is both popular and successful in Portland, and I suspect it has every chance of success in Baton Rouge, too. From a financing perspective,...

Cook: Maritime One building in downtown sells for $1.1M; luxury apartments planned

Longtime Baton Rouge residents may remember the conversion of a group of historic buildings along the river in downtown Baton Rouge, known as "Catfish Town." The redevelopment project had undergone several phases until it became associated with the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino. Part of the original development included an office building known as Maritime One. The building, addressed 101 France St., sold on Thursday for $1,100,000, or about $31.50 per square foot, to Maritime I LLC, represented by Darryl Smith, an investor based in Hammond. The seller was Marianne W. Cohn. Doug and Julie Ferris with Re/Max First Commercial brokered the transaction. The three-story structure was originally used for warehouse space in the early 1900s and was converted to office space when the original Catfish Town was developed. It has been vacant for the past few years and was originally offered for sale at $1.3 million. The new owner intends to convert the historic building into a luxury apartment...

New homes in Central TND to break ground in August

Rabalais Homes LLC will begin construction on its next five homes in The Village at Magnolia Square, a traditional neighborhood development in Central, by mid August, says Steve Rabalais, owner of Rabalais Homes. The local home builder purchased the five vacant lots for $990,000, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Rabalais says the homes, all of which are pre-sold, will be approximately 4,800 square feet and up and range in cost from $650,000 to $2 million. Construction on the homes will begin after the one-acre lake in the middle of the five lots is completed, he says, and digging for the lake should be starting this week. Rabalais expects to finish the homes by early 2016. Rabalais Homes has already built and sold 40 homes in the first part of the first phase of Magnolia Square, Rabalais says. Commercial tenants in the TND include Stab's Steak &...

Walk-On's signs on as first major tenant at Americana TND in Zachary

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar has signed on as the first major tenant in the Villages of Americana traditional neighborhood development that's under construction in Zachary, Commercial Properties Realty Trust announced this morning. "We feel that being at the front door of a community like Americana is the ideal place for us," says Brandon Landry, co- owner and founder of Walk-On's Enterprises, in a prepared statement. "The neighborhood, the new YMCA, being close to the Zachary ball parks and the city of Zachary all helped create the perfect catalyst that led us to this great location." The new restaurant, which will be Walk-On's fifth overall, will measure 4,500 square feet and include outdoor seating. CPRT says The Villages of Americana, Zachary's first TND, will include three 33,000-square-foot residential-over-retail buildings, along with other commercial buildings available. Each building will have approximately 30 apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. Level Homes announced...

La. Realtors group to save, renovate historic house

Louisiana Realtors will withdraw its request for a demolition permit and instead renovate and add on to the historic home at 821 Main St. downtown that will be the site of its new headquarters. The association announced its decision this morning, after spending three months evaluating the site to determine whether an adaptive reuse of the 1920s-era structure was economically feasible. "We felt an adaptive reuse was the best way to move forward and to make an investment in downtown Baton Rouge," says Norman Morris, the association's executive director. In February, the group filed with the Planning Commission for a permit to demolish the 90-year-old structure and develop a new office building on the site. It agreed to reconsider those plans after preservationists objected. Morris says the group's board looked at several alternate sites as well as the Main Street location and determined an adaptive reuse made the most sense. Construction on the house, often referred to as the Cangelosi...

Picture this

The Capital Region has seen considerable commercial growth over the past year.

Expanding an icon Tiger Stadium

Construction crews have been working round-the-clock at LSU to complete one of the Capital Region's biggest developments of the year: the massive $87 million South End Zone expansion of Tiger Stadium.

Off the charts

Baton Rouge metro area housing market performance ranking among 350 markets nationwide included in the current National Association of Home Builders' First American Leading Markets Index. The market is performing 42% better than it was during pre-recession “normal levels.”

Industrial overview

The industrial real estate market continues its post-recession rebound, according to an analysis by a committee of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Retail overview

The Baton Rouge retail market is strong and the year ahead will see a continuation of positive trends.

Commercial overview

The office market in Baton Rouge is strong and several positive developments over the past year suggest it will only continue to strengthen.

Multifamily overview

The multifamily housing sector is strong in Baton Rouge, with more than 1,700 units under construction, nearly 1,000 more expected to break ground this year, and an additional 2,000 that have been proposed and could become a reality in the next couple of years.

Single-family overview

After several years when buyers had the upper hand, the Capital Region's single-family housing market is tilting back toward sellers, according to data gathered and analyzed by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Lawmakers hand Jindal decision-making on construction projects

Lawmakers have given Gov. Bobby Jindal all the power to choose among their favored projects in next year's construction budget. The Associated Press reports lawmakers packed the bill on the construction budget so it contains $389 million more in projects than the state has to spend, leaving the governor to pick and choose which water system upgrades, economic development initiatives and parish road work will move forward in the budget year that begins July 1. The Jindal administration hasn't indicated which new projects it will forward to the Bond Commission for lines of credit or when it will make those decisions. House members tried to rein in the overstuffing of the construction budget, known as the "capital outlay" bill. But they lost that battle with senators, who loaded up the bill. Louisiana has a cap on annual borrowing that limits spending on construction projects to $355 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The projects are paid for with dollars borrowed through...

Planning Commission to take up next phase of Rouzan

Monday is new Planning Director Frank Duke’s first day on the job and also his first Planning Commission meeting, and among the items he’ll be watching the commission decide is a well-worn issue in the local planning community: Rouzan. Specifically, the commission will be asked to approve the final development plan for phase 5 at Rouzan, which consists of 103 single-family lots and will connect to the recently completed third phase of the development. The development of Rouzan is back on track now that the Metro Council has, once again, rezoned the development as a traditional neighborhood development or TND. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Rouzan’s original designation as a TND on the grounds that Spinosa did not have ownership and control over all of the property within the boundaries of the TND—including a...

RDA denied New Markets Tax Credits for third straight year

When the U.S. Treasury Department announced last week the institutions that will collectively receive more than $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credits this year, including $55 million to Baton Rouge-based Stonehenge Capital Co., among those not on the list was the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority. The local agency had submitted a request for more than $75 million in the lucrative credits but was turned down for the third year in a row. "It's very significant," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour. "The RDA was depending upon the fees that would have been generated by the deployment of those credits for its general fund/operational budget for the next four to five years." Though the agency applied for $75 million this year, Monsour says he was realistically hoping to receive between $35 million and $40 million. That the RDA was bypassed yet again by the program is...

Cook: Former Sears distribution center on Greenwell Springs to go up for lease

Sears used to maintain a warehouse distribution facility at 6620 Greenwell Springs Road, but the building has been vacant for several years. Sears finally sold the facility on May 29 to 6620 Warehouse LLC for $485,000, but it was originally listed for nearly double that, at $900,000. "We had multiple offers on the property at more than the sale price, but after the new owner put the property under contract to purchase the sale price was adjusted downward to compensate for some existing environmental issues," says Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Real Estate, who brokered the deal. "We had lots of interest in leasing it, so the new owner is going to renovate the space and then offer it on the open market for lease." The concrete block and masonry building measures about 75,000 square feet and is situated on approximately 4.5 acres. It is zoned M1 for industrial use. The sales price works out to about $6.50 per square foot. Renovations are currently underway.

Sherwood Office Plaza up for sale

Sherwood Office Plaza, a 30-year-old office building on Sherwood Forest Boulevard, is on the market. The 78,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1984 and for many years served as the corporate headquarters of Community Coffee, is situated on 4.7 acres and consists of one six-story and one two-story building. It is one of the few class A buildings in the Sherwood Forest submarket, and it's nearly 100% leased. "It's a really interesting building, and it doesn't hit the market very often," says Ty Gose of NAI/Latter & Blum, who is co-listing the property with a California real estate firm. "This is one of the nicer buildings in the submarket. It stays full because it doesn't have a lot of competition." The building is owned by a group of California investors, who bought it several years ago and have decided to sell because market conditions are now favorable, Gose says. The property does not have an asking price. Instead, the

Andrews: Don't try to predict interest rate changes

We all know that interest rates will rise. They have to go up sometime, and there has been no shortage of economic prognostications (been waiting three months to use that one) as to when and how high rates will go. I am as guilty as anyone except perhaps Tom Cook (been waiting a little longer for that one) in projecting that rates will go up "by the end of the year." And we all update those projections when rates don't rise by pushing back the timing of inevitable increases to future calendar benchmarks, including the end of the year, end of the quarter or after the next election cycle. In truth, the current rate levels are being primarily influenced by the Federal Reserve, which used to monitor price levels and employment in setting their interest rate targets—but have now reduced reliance on employment figures and are monitoring "a wide range of factors." There are periodic hints from the Fed as to when rates will "lift off," but even those are vague and often misunderstood.

The REIT move

In early May, Lamar Advertising received approval from the Internal Revenue Service to be treated as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, for federal income tax purposes.

Two retailers confirmed for The Village at Willow Grove, more on the way

Developer Richard Carmouche has signed leases with several retail tenants for The Village at Willow Grove, the commercial portion of his rapidly growing traditional neighborhood development on Perkins Road between Bluebonnet Boulevard and Siegen Lane. Femme Fatale, a women's boutique, will open a second Baton Rouge location in a 2,000-square-foot space in building two of The Village, which is not yet under construction. The store has an existing location at 16645 Highland Road. Adjacent to the boutique, Fresh Kitchen will move into a 600-square-foot space in the same building. The upstart business will sell healthful, freshly prepared meals. Its main location is getting ready to open on Corporate Boulevard. "We've turned away a considerable number of people that wanted space here, because we are highly protective of what is going into the retail development," says Ty Harvison of...

'Business Report': DHH says violations at La. dairy farms not uncommon

While Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has been cited by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for multiple sanitation violations over the past 18 months, it is not alone. As Business Report details in a sidebar to its exclusive story from the current issue on the struggles Kleinpeter is having over quality control issues, monthly inspection reports from DHH show all four of the state's dairies are regularly written up for violations that include issues like leaky valves, dirty walls and floors, missing caps and cluttered work areas. According to DHH, the violations are not as serious as you might think. That's because milk is pasteurized, which kills any deadly bacteria, like listeria, that may be present in the raw product—or even introduced early on in the processing. So while the problems noted at Brown's Dairy, Borden Dairy, Sunshine State Dairy and Kleinpeter sound, well, icky, none has ever...

DeBaise: 'There is no such thing as a dumb idea in business'

There isn't any magic to entrepreneurial success. It just takes a good idea and a lot of hard work and perseverance. So says Colleen DeBaise, a journalist and author who covers female entrepreneurs for The Story Exchange, a nonprofit organization that produces videos and articles. "Success doesn't come by accident," says DeBaise, who delivered today's keynote address at Business Report's luncheon for the 2014 Influential Women in Business honorees. "It comes from consistent hard work." In her address to a crowd of more than 600, she mentioned three successful business owners she has profiled and whose stories have inspired her: Barbara Corcoran, a Manhattan real estate agent who started her firm with $1,000 in 1973 and grew it to a $66 million company by 2001; Becky O'Neil, who parlayed her love of dog walking into a $2.3 million a year pet care business; and, Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx shapewear and...

La. home prices hit new highs in April, report says

Louisiana home prices hit a new peak in April, according to new monthly figures released today by CoreLogic. Average single-family home prices in the state, including distressed sales, rose 1.4% between March and April, the report says, with the year-over-year increase at 3.7% through April. Excluding distressed sales—that is, properties under foreclosure or advertised for sale by a mortgagee—prices in Louisiana rose 0.9% on the month and are up 4% year-over-year. In both categories, Louisiana prices reached a new peak in April, the report says. All 50 states and the District of Columbia posted a year-over-year increase in average home prices during April, according to the report, and there are now 23 states at or within 10% of their peak average price. See the full report. While home prices across the U.S. rose by 10.5% in April, compared to the same month a year earlier,...

Andrews: Talk to your lenders and 'Be Prepared' for this hurricane season

Growing up in the New Orleans area I was a member of the Boy Scouts. Having been born with the name Brian Scott Andrews and initials of "BSA" ensured a hefty supply of personalized monogrammed Boy Scouts of America uniforms, making it imperative that I join. Of course, growing up as "B.S. Andrews" had its moments, possibly preparing me for journalism and academia, but that is another story. As a Boy Scout I was taught the motto of "Be Prepared" for camping, community service and other activities of the organization. Growing up in south Louisiana we prepared for emergencies as well, particularly hurricanes, and got ready to ride out the storms. I have carried many of those preparedness lessons with me and find them helpful in my commercial real estate consulting practice. Some agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, have checklists available for storm preparation. In commercial real...

Cook: Undeveloped Beauregard Town site sells for $550K

Sales of undeveloped sites in Beauregard Town are rare because there is so little vacant land available in the downtown area neighborhood. But on Monday an undeveloped site at the northeast corner of America and Napoleon streets sold for $550,000. Clay Johnson and Bobby Smith of NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial Real Estate marketed the site for over two years before it was purchased by Beauregard Quarters LLC from America Street Properties LLC. The site was listed for $570,000, but sold for $20,000 less. At 36,864 square feet, the property's sale price works out to about $14.92 per square foot. The tract was made up of three adjoining lots and has 192 feet of frontage on both Napoleon and America streets. It is currently zoned A4, which would allow for multifamily development. The purchasers were represented by Chad Rigby with Stream Realty Partners. Rigby declines to say what the new owner intends to do with the site.

Area surrounding new Gonzales bowling alley and movie theater poised for growth, but challenges remain

With the new Malco movie theater and Premier Lanes Entertainment Center bowling alley breathing new life into the Airline Highway and La. 44 intersection in Gonzales, commercial real estate agents are eyeing neighboring sites for redevelopment. "In general, the mood there is very positive along Airline and Burnside Avenue [La. 44], observing by traffic counts and proximity to Walmart," says Charlie Colvin of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate, noting the big discount retailer is just one mile away down Airline. But Austin Earhart, who represents the Planet Fitness next to the new theater and bowling alley, says parking problems and tricky ground leases pose challenges. "It's a great intersection," says Earhart, also of Beau Box. "It's just kind of weird because of the way the Walgreens [at Airline and Burnside] got developed. It really ate up all the parking, so the old Albertsons is still vacant and probably will be for a long time." Dottie Tarleton, of Stirling Properties, agrees.

RDA to bid on up to $150K of tax-delinquent deeds at auction Wednesday

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is planning to spend upwards of $150,000 on Wednesday to acquire the tax deeds of tax-delinquent properties that will be auctioned off by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office in a semi-annual online bidding process. RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour is finalizing today the list of properties on which the RDA will bid, and so far his preliminary list includes properties with a total assessed value of some $20 million. "We have a limited amount of funds to spend this year," says Monsour. "They could go really quickly with just four or five properties." This will be the second year the RDA has invested in tax deeds as a way to generate revenue for the cash-strapped agency, and Monsour says it is an effective tool. The winning bidder in a tax sale pays late taxes and penalties on a property and is then entitled to collect from the property...

Former Grace Life Fellowship church, nearby Siegen tract sell for $1.2 million

In separate transactions, Hyde Title Co., under limited liability company Lewis Tec III, has purchased the former Grace Life Fellowship church and a neighboring tract on Siegen Lane for a total of $1.2 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Grace Life purchased a 10-acre tract adjacent to Cypress Heights Academy on Barringer Foreman Road in 2012 and moved into its new church there earlier this year. It sold its former site on Quail Ridge Avenue, just off Siegen Lane, to Lewis Tec for $388,500. Meanwhile, Grigsby Properties LLC—whose sole member is local businessman Lane Grigsby, according to the Secretary of State's website—sold a nearby 2-acre property at 10051 Siegen Lane to Lewis Tec for $811,500. Grace Life Fellowship officials could not be reached in time for publication this afternoon for further details on the...

Walmart buys Denham Springs land for development of neighborhood market, gas station

Walmart, through its real estate business trust, has purchased a roughly 5.8-acre tract at the corner of La. 16 and Vincent Road in Denham Springs, on which it plans to develop one of its neighborhood market stores, which are smaller than its usual retail stores. Walmart also plans to develop a gas station on the site. The retail giant paid $1,392,000 for the property, which it bought from G & D Storage, a limited liability company owned by Natchez businessmen Vidal David and Gary Guido. Randy Herring with Mike Falgoust & Associates represented the sellers in the deal, which closed Thursday, while Dennis Carlton with Carlton & Associates represented Walmart. Herring says the sellers have approximately 6 acres of adjacent, vacant land for sale, and they hope to sell it for additional retail development. In late January, Walmart paid $3,022,500 for a piece of land at the corner of La. 42 and La. 44 in Prairieville,

Carmouche sells land at The Grove to Domain Companies for new phase of development

Domain Companies, a real estate development firm with offices in New Orleans and New York, has signed a purchase agreement with Richard Carmouche to acquire a 4.8-acre tract at his mixed-use development The Grove and is expected to begin developing the land into a new phase of the project called Addison. The sale is expected to close soon, and construction on Addison is expected to begin later this summer. Domain Companies—which is paying between $14 and $18 per square foot for the land, according to Carmouche—is no stranger to The Grove. It owns and is developing the first phase of the development, which is called The High Grove and is located across the street from the parcel on which Addison will be built. "The High Grove is on one side of the boulevard and this is on the other," says Carmouche. "So it really sets up a density picture pretty nicely." Carmouche describes The Grove, which is fronted by Interstate 10 and is across the railroad tracks from the Mall of...

'225': Mud and Water looks to relocate by the fall

Mud and Water, a music venue and bar at 174 South Blvd., will take its name elsewhere after June 1. As 225 reports, talent buyer and promoter Jeremy Woolsey says the venue, which was formerly known as L Bar, will carry on with a different name and direction because of a "disbanding of a verbal partnership" with the leaseholder, Robert McClaren. Woolsey says he is no longer booking for the venue, effectively immediately, and has moved shows to other venues in Baton Rouge or to his new venue in New Orleans, The Beatnik, on 1638 Clio St. Woolsey says he hopes to reopen Mud and Water in a new location in Baton Rouge by the fall. In the meantime, he says he and his team will still book shows at various venues in the Capital City as Mud and Water Productions. McClaren says he doesn't have a name or new brand yet, but says that the new location won't focus solely on original live music. He says the bar and nightclub will be "in transition" by June 1, but with no firm reopen date.

New subdivision planned for behind Highland Road Park

Plans for a new subdivision on Amiss Road called Highland Court, located just behind Highland Road Park, are moving forward, with the subdivision's developer finalizing the purchase of land for the neighborhood Wednesday. Under a limited liability company called Highland Court, developer Sam Byer purchased the land for $600,000 from Balmenad LLC, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Byer has previously told Daily Report that Highland Court will be located right across the street from the new tennis courts at Highland Road Park. "It's in an excellent spot," says Byer, who is developing the subdivision along with his wife, Louise. "We're across from the observatory, across from the soccer fields, archery, all sorts of wonderful things. And we can get to it from Siegen or Highland Road, which makes it very convenient." Highland Court will contain 17 lots, and Byer says he will build the neighborhood out and sell the homes once...

Former OLOL medical office on Perkins sells for $907K

Levert-St. John LLC, managed and represented by Louis Andolsek Jr., sold a 19,000-square-foot office building at 7434 Perkins Road for $970,000 in a deal that was finalized last week, says Andolsek, who is president of The Levert Companies in Metairie. The building, located across the street from the Baton Rouge Clinic, was previously leased to Our Lady of the Lake as a medical office building, Andolsek says, but has remained vacant since January 2013. The buyer in the deal—LeBlanc Property 7434 LLC, represented by Darrell and Brian LeBlanc—purchased the building as part of an investment property, Andolsek says. "They're hoping to find a tenant to fill it," he says, adding, "It can operate as any type of office architecturally." Levert-St. John LLC and J.B. Levert Land Company LLC—a company related to Levert-St. John—recently purchased two adjacent retail...

Cook: Industrial subdivision in Walker sells for $565K to NOLA investor

Walker Warehouses LLC, represented by Ronnie A. Deniger, has sold an industrial subdivision located at U.S. 190 and Fletcher Lane in Walker for $565,000 to a New Orleans investor, Logistics Park LLC, represented by Christopher C. Bellone. Known as Industrial Park, the subdivision includes two warehouse buildings and 15 vacant lots. One warehouse building is 3,000 square feet, while the other is 5,040 square feet, and both of them were leased at the time of sale. Matthew Shirley and Bill Jeansonne with Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate brokered the transaction. Logistics Park LLC purchased the property purely as in investment, and the new owner intends to sell the lots and buildings off individually over time.
(Appraiser Tom Cook owns Cook Moore and Associates. Reach him at 293-7006 or

'Business Report': Former DPW director discusses some of department's greatest challenges

Appraiser Tom Cook spoke for many local builders and developers in April when he called out the "East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Does-Not-Work" from the stage at the annual Trends real estate seminar. Cook, a Business Report and Daily Report contributor, said a builder told him that it can take 45 days to get a permit from the Department of Public Works, compared to 65 days to build the house. DPW officials said a year ago that they would cut turnaround time to seven days, according to Cook, who added that nothing had changed in the intervening 12 months. Some builders and developers say things actually have gotten worse. As David Guillory was recently preparing to leave the department for a new job with Compliance EnviroSystems, the former director and 11-year department veteran discussed some of the department's biggest challenges with Business...

Andrews: A look at common stress test projections

Real estate investment can be as exciting as it is profitable, and sometimes we let that excitement lead the focus of our analysis on the best-case scenario for a property's cash flow performance. But we soon run into the reality that some of the market players put developers through a stress test exercise to see what condition we will be in if things don't turn out quite like we anticipate. Lenders go through the exercise to see at what point the loan and the borrower would get into trouble. Investors do it to see what levels of additional capital might be needed if a cash call is required to shore up debt service and operating expense shortfalls. Two common forms of stress testing are "breakeven occupancy" and "escalations." Here's a brief guide on how they work:

The other dairies

While Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has been cited by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for multiple sanitation violations over the past 18 months, it is not alone. Monthly inspection reports from DHH show all four of the state's dairies are regularly written up for violations that include things like leaky valves, dirty walls and floors, missing caps and cluttered work areas.
How serious are such violations?

Plight of the Louisiana dairy farm

The struggle Kleinpeter Farms and Dairy is having over quality control issues at the processing plant is just one of many pressures bearing down on the dairy and its competitors, both in the state and around the country. Being a dairy farmer and a milk processor is a hard way to make a living—and it's getting harder.

Refreshing the market

Southside Produce, the Perkins Road produce market that bills itself as the largest open-air market in Louisiana, is getting a new look.

Helena Cunningham

POSITION Founder and CEO
COMPANY National Housing Consultant Services
WHAT THEY DO Consultant and development services with emphasis on affordable housing
NEXT GOAL Develop the Saltz Building downtown

10 Questions: Time for a new DPW?

Appraiser Tom Cook spoke for many local builders and developers in April when he called out the East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public "Does-Not-Work" from the stage at the annual Trends real estate seminar.

Retail center sells for $2.75 million

The shopping center on the southeast corner of Siegen Lane and Cloverland Avenue has sold for $2.75 million.

Sixth office building set to go up in Bluebonnet Palms

The developers of Bluebonnet Palms Office Park will soon break ground on its sixth office building, which will be owned and occupied by a law firm, says Chris Pike, an investment and development specialist at Mike Falgoust & Associates who represents the office park. Under Bluebonnet HP Holdings LLC, the firm has filed its plan review application with the city-parish Department of Public Works to build the 5,147-square-foot office building at 4232 Bluebonnet Blvd., near the intersection of Jefferson Highway. As Pike previously told Daily Report, a 6,000-square-foot medical building will subsequently fill the seventh plot in the eight-parcel park, and the eighth will remain vacant for a couple years for use during the expansion of the city-parish sewage system. Other plan review applications recently filed with DPW include:

333 Flats to break ground next month on East Boyd

Dantin Bruce Development will break ground next month on 333 Flats, a residential development on East Boyd Drive, between Burbank Drive and Highland Road, says co-owner Brian Dantin. 333 Flats is the second phase of a larger residential development by Dantin Bruce on East Boyd. It will be located adjacent to 333 Lofts, which opened in August 2012. And while 333 Flats, like its neighbor, will contain condominiums, Dantin says the three-story development will offer a greater variety of floor plans than 333 Lofts. The flats will include 36 units total, including studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums—two of which are pre-sold, Dantin says. The lofts—which sold all 28 units within 10 months of completion—only offered two- and three-bedroom condos. "We had a lot of people who called about one-bedrooms [for 333 Lofts], so we wanted to offer that," Dantin says.

Hi Nabor headed to Broadmoor shopping center

Just two days after news broke that Hi Nabor will be leaving the newly renamed Drusilla Village Shopping Center, the grocery store's owners signed a lease today to open a new store in the Broadmoor Village Shopping Center on Florida Boulevard. "We are excited to show what we can do, and we have big plans for the future," says Jim Crifasi, whose family has operated the Drusilla store for more than 20 years, in addition to two other Hi Nabor stores in Baton Rouge. "We think it's going to be great for that area." The new Hi Nabor will be located approximately 4 miles from the soon-to-close Drusilla location, in a currently vacant 23,000-square-foot space in the Broadmoor center. Crifasi says the space will be expanded to include an additional 5,000 square feet. "We're hoping to be open by the end of August," he says. As for the approximately 50 employees who currently work at Hi Nabor's...

North BR apartment complex set to undergo $4.3 million renovation

The Palmer-Northway Apartments on Mohican-Prescott Crossover in north Baton Rouge are about to undergo a $4.3 million transformation into a new complex called Choctaw Lodge—which will be affordable multifamily housing administered through the Louisiana Housing Corp. The rehabilitation will begin construction by early July, says Larry Hoss, president of Ruston-based Our Plan B Inc., the construction company spearheading the tax credit project. "Part of our objective is to upgrade the neighborhood and cut down on the crime," Hoss says. "So we put our application in with the [LHC] and got approved to rehab the project." Hoss says about 20 of the 102 apartments in the complex currently have tenants, adding the remaining units are in pretty poor condition and in need of significant renovations. All apartments will be renovated as part of the company's rehab plans, which include adding about 4,000 square feet and reconfiguring the space into 92 upgraded multifamily units. Renovations...

EBR residential permits up in April, commercial permits down

The number of residential permits issued across East Baton Rouge Parish increased in April, from 137 during the month a year ago to 163 last month, while the number of permits for commercial projects issued fell from 65 to 48. However, a number of major commercial developments were issued last month—including one for the IBM development downtown, valued at $58.6 million, and another for The Standard, a 274-unit complex near LSU valued at $44.3 million—pushing total valuation of all permits issued to $142.4 million. That's a 104% increase over the $69.9 million in valuation attributed to permits issued in April 2013. Residential and commercial permits account for just a small portion of all those issued each month. Most permits issued fall under the miscellaneous category, for things such as...

Third building sells in speculative Coursey office park

The third office building at Market Plaza Office Park on Coursey Boulevard has been sold, says Chris Pike, an investment and development specialist at Mike Falgoust & Associates who represents the speculative development. The same limited liability company that purchased the office park's first two buildings—Coursey Condos LLC—purchased the most recently completed building in Market Plaza for $520,000, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court on Tuesday. The building measures approximately 3,500 square feet. Destiny Interests LLC, the office park's developer, was the seller. The first two office buildings, at roughly 3,000 square feet each, collectively sold for $675,000 in December. Pike recently told Daily Report that the...

St. Jude to break ground next month on new $5.5 million ministry building

With the demolition of its former ministry building complete, St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church has embarked on the second segment of its four-phase master plan, which it began implementing in 2012. "Essentially we're rebuilding the entire church campus because all the church buildings were segregated before," says David Hebert of GraceHebert Architects, which is handling the design for the campus, located at the corner of Highland Road and Gardere Lane. The first phase—which included a $4.2 million renovation and expansion of the church building to increase seating by 200 seats—was completed last summer. Ground will be broken on the new ministry building next month. The new two-story ministry building will be 16,000 square feet—almost four times the size of the old building—and will cost $5.5 million to build, says Hebert. While the old building had only four conference rooms, the new one will have seven, as well as 14 offices for church office personnel...

Hi Nabor out, LeBlanc's Frais Marche in at Drusilla shopping center

The newly renamed Drusilla Village Shopping Center, which was purchased in April for $10.5 million by Donnie Jarreau Real Estate and will soon undergo a $2 million facelift, will also be getting a new anchor tenant. LeBlanc's Food Stores announced today it will open a LeBlanc's Frais Marche in the shopping center later this year. The Gonzales-based supermarket chain, which will be opening its ninth location in south Louisiana and its first store in Baton Rouge, will be displacing Hi Nabor Supermarket, which has operated in the Drusilla shopping center for more than 20 years. In a statement released today, Hi Nabor's owners, the Crifasi family, say they are disappointed by the situation. "Unfortunately, we have been unable to come to terms on a lease which would allow us to maintain the low prices we prided ourselves in offering our customers," the store's owners say. The Crifasi...

Cook: Local brokers puzzled by Commercial Properties' hiring of NOLA-based leasing agent for BR properties

Several brokers in the Baton Rouge market are scratching their heads today following Monday's announcement by Commercial Properties Realty Trust—the real estate arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation—that it has selected Corporate Realty Inc. to market and lease its interests in the Bon Carré Business Center and Water Campus in Baton Rouge. While Corporate Realty is a well-known brokerage firm based in New Orleans with 25 agents, they have no local presence in Baton Rouge. George Kurz of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate called the choice "very interesting." Other local realtors, including Dottie Tarleton of Stirling Properties and Hank Saurage of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, wonder why a local firm was not considered. None of the local brokers I spoke to had been interviewed, nor had they received a request for proposal to bid on the contract. Calls to Commercial Properties to discuss the selection process were not returned.

Andrews: Meet the FHFA's new boss

Former North Carolina Rep. Melvin "Mel" Watt became the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in January of this year, making him the top regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a key player in the United States housing finance industry. Recent comments from Watt provide a glimpse of how he plans to run the mortgage giants in the absence of Congressional agreement on how to restructure the industry. Some of his more telling comments concern the previously announced mandate to shrink Fannie and Freddie—he wants to reduce risk, but not necessarily total outstandings—as well as the treatment of private investors who want to share in the current success of the government sponsored entities. "I don't lay awake at night worrying about what's fair to the shareholders," Watt says of the latter issue. "My responsibility is to think about how can I do what is responsible for the taxpayers." What I like the most about Watt is his "safe and sound" approach to...

Three East State Street properties sell for $600,000

Hyde Title Co., under a limited liability company called Lewis Tec II, has purchased three properties on the corner of East State and Ivanhoe streets for $600,000, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court Monday. The three parcels, located at 320 East State St., 3209 Ivanhoe St. and 3229 Ivanhoe St., include rental properties and are located just down the street from the planned site for Lakeview Properties—a 12-unit, four-story apartment building at 635 East State St. near Dalrymple Drive—which recently submitted plans to the city-parish Planning Commission. It's not yet clear what the plan is, if any, for the three lots purchased on Monday. Calls to Hyde Title Co. weren't returned this morning in time for publication. Acting as joint sellers in the deal were Robert Reich, William Reich, Elizabeth Reich Thomas and Barbara Reich...

Realtors ask for second deferral on request to demolish historic home

When the Planning Commission meets tonight, one issue it will not be deciding is the future of a historic house on Main Street downtown. For the second month in a row, the Louisiana Realtors has asked the commission to defer the request it filed earlier this year to demolish the 93-year-old house at 821 Main St. The association signed a purchase agreement on the house in February and filed for a demolition permit so it could build a new headquarters building on the site. Does the latest deferral mean the association has reconsidered and is now willing to save the house? The group's president, Norman Morris, is not yet ready to say for sure. He says the association asked for the deferral, as it did in April, because it needs more time to review options. At the urging of preservationists hoping to save the house, the Realtors' board and its architects went back to the drawing board after their initial demolition request. Since March, they've been working on new plans for an adaptive...