Content tagged “Construction and property”

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...

Realtors group completes purchase of downtown BR home for new headquarters

The Louisiana Realtors Association is closing today on the historic downtown home at 821 Main St. that will be the site of its new headquarters. The sale comes almost six months after the association filed for permits to demolish the 90-year-old home to make way for a new office building. But after preservationists objected, it agreed to reconsider its request and eventually settled on a plan for an adaptive reuse. "This is a fantastic opportunity, and we're thrilled to be a part of the downtown community," says Norman Morris, executive director of LR, which is buying the property from Collis Temple, Jr. The sale price for the 4,500-square-foot building is approximately $650,000, though once renovations are completed the total investment in downtown will exceed $2 million, Morris says. Preliminary plans call for renovating the existing 4,500-square-foot structure and adding an additional 4,500 square feet onto the back of the house. State and federal historic tax credits will be used...

Andrews: Condos take backseat to townhomes in post-recession financing world

A client of mine recently described a potential development that was geared towards the vacation and leisure crowd looking for a second home. The concept and location looked great, but the big question was about the ability of purchasers to secure financing for their units. Taking a cue from my attorney friends I answered: "Well, it depends—tell me more." My interest was in the type of unit being considered and whether he was planning a condominium project or a townhouse project, because the end-user financing is not the same. After a little back-and-forth on the matter I contacted my friend Kenny Hodges of Assurance Financial to ask about the availability of financing for these units. According to Hodges, mortgage lenders can treat townhomes as conventional mortgages. "If they are townhomes and on or near vacation type locations, any lender can do conventional financing and treat the property as a second home," he says. "Townhomes are the key … condo financing is more...

Cook: Level Construction, Walk-On's complete deal for downtown property

A very complicated transaction involving a downtown property on Main Street and two prominent local companies has been completed for $650,000. As Daily Report first reported in May, the transaction was facilitated by Walk-On's Enterprises, which had outgrown its 4,500-square-foot property at 460 Main St. that it had rented for years from H & E Properties. Walk-On's has since moved its headquarters to a more than 7,000-square-foot space at 232 Third St. Level Construction, meanwhile, has also outgrown its 3,500-square-foot space at 450 Main St., which is next door to the former Walk-On's headquarters. Level has now purchased the former Walk-On's headquarters for $650,000, or about $154 per square foot, according to Mike Stinson with Saurage Rotenberg Real Estate, who brokered the transaction. "There were a lot of moving parts, trying to get more space for both Walk-On's and...

Top floors of IBM office tower in BR to be leased to commercial tenants

The top two floors of the new downtown IBM office tower, currently under construction on Lafayette Street at River Road, will be available for lease to commercial tenants. Though the 44,000 square feet of space on the ninth and 10th floors of the 220,000-square-foot building will not be available until 2015, New Orleans property management firm Corporate Realty is already marketing the Class A space for $30 to $32 per square foot/annually. That's more than 10% higher than the most expensive downtown office tower, II City Plaza, which rents for $28 per square foot annually; and more than 40% higher than the average downtown rate for Class A space of $21.75. But Corporate Realty President Mike Siegel believes there will be demand for the new property. "There's going to be a lot of interest," he says. "There is spectacular space with great views and great bones in the building." Each of the top two floors has 22,900 square feet of contiguous space available for lease. Though Siegel says...

French Market Bistro plans for expansion, improvements

French Market Bistro will soon become a little more comfortable, says Justin McDonald, who co-owns both French Market Bistro and Mansurs on the Boulevard. "We're taking over the suite next door and expanding," McDonald says. "The expansion is to give our guests more comfort in a couple of places: the restrooms and the bar." The restaurant currently operates out of suite B of Highland Place, a shopping center at 16645 Highland Road near Interstate 10. It will expand into the 1,800-square-foot adjacent suite C, which is on French Market's right if you're facing the restaurant. Suite C formerly housed Via Consignment Interiors but has remained vacant for about a year, McDonald says. The remodel will include new restrooms to the left of the entrance where the bar currently stands and a new and improved bar—which will feature a charbroiler for "our famous charbroiled oysters from Mansurs," McDonald says—in the new space to the right of the entrance. Other improvements include...

New subdivision on Tiger Bend to break ground late fall

Plans for a new subdivision on Tiger Bend Road were among several planning and zoning applications submitted to the city-parish Planning Commission for today's application deadline. The subdivision, called Audubon Parc, will be located east of Jefferson Highway and just west of Chippendale Drive. The application includes plans for 47 residential lots, each of which average about 8,000 square feet. The subdivision's developers anticipate breaking ground sometime in late fall. Also submitted to the Planning Commission was Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews' application requesting to rezone the site behind BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse and Bar Louie at the Mall of Louisiana to CAB1. Tony Stephens, general manager for the mall, says that the 6,000-square-foot location for the Colorado-based burger chain is currently under construction and expected to open sometime between late October and November. —Rachel Alexander

Baton Rouge construction company building $6.5M new headquarters

Baton Rouge-based James Construction Group—which has offices throughout Florida, Louisiana and Texas—began construction this week on a 35,700-square-foot office building at 18484 Petroleum Drive, which will serve as its new headquarters starting in April 2015, says Don Hoon, who's managing the project. The construction group is currently located in five different suites at 11200 Industriplex Blvd., and Hoon says the new office—projected to cost about $6.5 million to build—will allow the company to consolidate operations. "It'll be much more efficient," he says. "Right now, because we're in various locations, we have redundant services, and we have space that's not very efficient." Dallas-based Primoris Services Corp., the parent corporation of James Construction Group, purchased the land for the new office, located just off Highland Road, for a little under $1 million about two years ago, Hoon says. James Construction Group performs a wide range of projects...

Cook: New retail center planned for Bass Pro Shops tract

A vacant 5-acre tract in the Bass Pro Shops development in Denham Springs will soon be home to a 47,000-square-foot retail center, according to Joe Moore, of RE/MAX First, who brokered the sale of the property. I-10 Equity Partners LLC, based in Sulphur, is assembling the approximately 5.11-acre tract, which is located next to Cavender's Western Outfitters store, for the construction of the retail center. The center will house national chain Quaker Steak and Lube, a boutique dress shop, a cell phone service provider and a fitness concept, Moore says. The tract is being assembled for a total price of $2,335,469, or about $10.50 per square foot. According to Moore, 62% of the center is pre-leased in the $18 to $23 per square foot range. Construction should begin in the next two months.
(Appraiser Tom Cook owns Cook Moore and Associates. Reach him at 293-7006 or

Andrews: When 'hustle' is not a good thing

I spoke at LSU's Fraud and Forensic Accounting Conference last week on the topic of structured finance fraud and was not able to get into an issue that was breaking just as the conference was being held. The federal government has filed several lawsuits against Bank of America alleging mortgage fraud at various levels, but the one that came to a head on July 30 was a little different—it involved funds used by BoA that came from a special governmental source and a little-known enforcement group using a novel legal approach. The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program was established by Congress in 2008 to prevent fraud, waste and abuse linked to the $700 billion relief program. TARP was the so-called "bank bailout" program initiated in 2008 to prevent widespread bank failures that would have crashed the U.S. if not the world economy. SIGTARP looked into BoA's mortgage activities after receiving TARP funds to see if there were any...

Mid City leaders, developers talk future of Westmoreland shopping center

Even with the Piccadilly Cafeteria in the Westmoreland Village Shopping Center closing at the end of June, interest in the 9.2-acre shopping center property's potential has resurfaced as several redevelopment initiatives for Government Street and the Mid City area gain momentum. "We're definitely sad to see [Piccadilly] go," says Samuel Sanders, executive director of the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance. "But we remain very interested in what could become of that site." Sanders says the alliance is in ongoing conversations with Catholic High School, which purchased the shopping center under Hearthstone Properties for $4.85 million in late 2010. "We understand from their end that they are planning to put something out to invite developers to come out with their ideas," he says. "[CHS] is working on developing the RFP." The property includes the multi-suite building that Piccadilly...

Downtown law firm moving to be part of Nicholson corridor redevelopment

Williamson, Fontenot & Campbell LLC, a local law firm with offices downtown, expects to break ground on a renovation project for a new office space off Nicholson Drive by the end of the year, says Rob Campbell, a partner with the firm. Campbell says the new office—located at 955 McClung St.—will give the firm substantially more office and parking space, the latter of which is particularly scarce at the firm's downtown office, located at 343 Royal St. While the downtown office is about 2,000 square feet with two designated parking spots, the McClung Street office is approximately 3,000 square feet, and Campbell says the firm has plans in the works to renovate and expand the space and bring parking to a total of 14 spots. He says the firm has always been "a little behind the curve" when it comes to choosing a prime location, but he's confident the Nicholson corridor is the place to be. "We think that area is really going to blow up," Campbell says. "It could be one year, it...

New Starbucks and Newk's Eatery in the works for Towne Center

New Orleans-based Vertical Construction Management has filed a plan review application with the city-parish Department of Public Works for the construction of a new 5,150-square-foot building in Towne Center Business Park for Starbucks and Newk's Eatery, a Mississippi-based café chain. As Daily Report previously reported, plans for the coffee shop and restaurant include renderings of a two-suite building on an approximately 1.7-acre plot—which Dallas-based Verdad Real Estate purchased for $1.66 million in June—between Chase Bank and Carrabba's Italian Grill on the corner of Commerce Circle and Corporate Boulevard. According to the plan review application, the building will cost $500,000. Other applications filed recently with DPW include:

Industry 101

The manufacturing boom. A new industrial revolution. A renaissance. The biggest industrial expansion in Louisiana's history—more than $60 billion worth.
Whatever you call it, it's quickly apparent that economic benefits aren't the only thing headed Louisiana's way. With it come significant demands, affecting everything from infrastructure and housing to education.

EBR residential permitting up in June, commercial down

The number of permits issued for residential construction projects in East Baton Rouge Parish was up in June, while commercial permitting was down. According to the latest monthly report from the city-parish Department of Public Works, a total of 291 residential projects were permitted, up from from 203 permits issued during June last year. Six months into the year, residential permitting is down about 45%, with 1,053 permits issued thus far in 2014, compared to 1,912 through June last year. While total commercial permits were down in June, the city-parish signed off on some very large projects. The largest is the roughly 119,000-square-foot warehouse and beer distribution facility Crescent Crown Distributing is building at 9101 Tom Drive, valued at $9,657,000. The Arizona-based beer distributor with regional headquarters in New Orleans finalized its purchase of a 15-acre tract near...

Monsour says redevelopment authority funding to run out by end of next year

While the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is moving forward with plans for the redevelopment of the old Entergy site on Government Street and also getting ready to begin construction on Ardendale—the RDA board is scheduled to approve a contract for infrastructure work at its Aug. 18 meeting—the agency's funding remains in limbo. The RDA has about $1.5 million, which is enough money to keep its doors open through 2015. After that it will have to find a permanent source of funding to cover both operations and project costs. "If we've got 18 months of funding to keep us in business, we—the board and the community—have to collectively identify how the RDA is going to be funded," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour. "So far, all of our programs have been funded with grants or Community Development Block Grant funds or Gustav funds, and while RDAs...

Redevelopment authority moving forward with plans for Entergy site on Government

Plans are moving forward for the redevelopment of the former Entergy site at 1509 Government St., which sits on 6.2 acres between downtown and Mid City. Six design firms have submitted proposals to the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority for the planning phase of the project, which will encompass a broader 103-acre swath of land bordered by Interstate 10, North Boulevard, 19th and Government streets. The Entergy property sits in the center of that area. "We asked the firms to look at the broader area to give us an inventory of residents, demographics and the assets that need to be brought to the area," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour. "That will help us determine what we can put at the Entergy site that will ripple out to the whole area." As currently envisioned, the Entergy site will be redeveloped into some sort of mixed-use development with retail and residential...

Roofing supplies distributor opens first BR location

Dallas-based Roofing Supply Group, a wholesale distributor of roofing supplies and related materials with approximately 73 locations nationwide, has opened its first Baton Rouge branch, says Jeff Clay, vice president of strategic planning and corporate development at RSG. "We've serviced customers in Baton Rouge historically, but always out of New Orleans," Clay says, adding that the New Orleans location has been open for about 10 to 15 years. "We've got a big enough customer base that we felt like it made sense to go to Baton Rouge, so for the past 12 to 18 months we've had our eye on an expansion there." The roofing supplies company is leasing approximately 40,000 square feet of warehouse space and three acres of yard space at 7635 S. Choctaw Drive, Clay says. The warehouse, previously owned by Reads-Perkins Moving Systems, sold for $1.6 million earlier this year to a third-party...

Mount Hope Plantation House sells for $1.4M

The owner of local event-planning, catering and reception company Highland Porch has purchased Mount Hope Plantation House, located at 8151 Highland Road, between Kenilworth Parkway and Staring Lane, for $1.4 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Lisa Anne Luther says the 4-acre historic site is the perfect complement to her small reception venue. “We do our smaller luncheons, like bridal luncheons and teas, at [Highland Porch], and then we’re going to do larger events at Mount Hope,” Luther says. “They’re going to be the perfect pair.” Built in 1817, the one-and-a-half-story antebellum home is just down the street from Highland Porch, which is located at 145 Ben Hur Road on the corner of Highland. While Luther and her husband, Gene Luther, will continue to operate it as a wedding and reception facility as did the plantation’s previous owners, they have some renovations and changes in the...

Zillow's $3.5B deal to buy Trulia creates digital real estate ad juggernaut

By the time many home shoppers call a real estate agent, they've already got a short list of properties—and data to support the prices they want to pay. As the Los Angeles Times reports, that's because real estate information websites such as Zillow and Trulia have in short order revolutionized one of the world's oldest transactions. The $3.5 billion deal announced Monday for Zillow to buy Trulia creates a digital advertising juggernaut that could control more than 70% of online real estate searches. And it could further open up information about the market to buy and sell houses, while vacuuming up advertising dollars in the process. It also could add tension to the already uneasy relationship between the sites and some agents and brokerages. Until recent years, agents had a monopoly on such market intelligence. "Before sites like Zillow, buyers would come to our office and we'd tell them what was on the market," says Mike Kelly of First Team Real Estate in Anaheim...

Andrews: Maturing CMBS loans face challenges

One of the top selling points of permanent commercial real estate loans made through the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities market is the 10-year fixed interest rate, and when you lock in a low interest rate for such a long period of time you can get spoiled by the cash flows. An issue that is getting more and more attention these days is the flood of these fixed-rate CMBS loans that are maturing within the next few years, and the risk that they will not qualify for renewal if market interest rates increase. The issue is not credit quality or market fundamentals, but the amount of debt that can be serviced by project cash flow at the higher interest rates and the probability that property owners will have to pay down loan balances to meet the debt coverage requirements. Trepp Research recently ran the numbers on the percentage of CMBS loans maturing over the next few years that would not qualify for renewal at current market rates, at 25-basis-point increments. For office and...

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.