Content tagged “Construction and property”

Deluxe Inn on Airline to become ELF Express Hotel following $1M sale

The Deluxe Inn at 10245 Airline Highway near Interstate 12 sold yesterday for $1 million to California-based ELF Homes Inc., says Louis Sirico, CEO of ELF. With an estimated $1.5 million remodel already in progress, the new ownership will upgrade the rooms and change the name to ELF Express Hotel. ELF provides furnished short-term corporate housing in California, but this will be the company's first hotel. "Our goal is to create a really clean, nice space for the working man to stay," Sirico says, identifying the hotel's target market as temporary workers in the manufacturing, petrochemical and film industries. "The nice thing is that we're right across the street from Celtic studios and the new Costco, and that's perfect for us," he says. "I don't expect any of the HBO actors and actresses to stay here, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes. That's our clientele." ELF Express will charge approximately $48 a night, $210 a week and $850 a month, Sirico says, adding, "I think...

Vacant tract on Pecue between I-10 and Perkins sells for $2.3 million

A 4.1-acre vacant tract of land fronting Pecue Lane between Perkins Road and Interstate 10 was sold on Tuesday to Coastal Investment Enterprises LLC for $2.3 million, says Gaines Garrett of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate, who represented the seller—Alvarez Construction Co.—in the deal. "We're thrilled about the sale of this tract," says Carlos Alvarez, the construction company's president, adding that it is one of five commercial tracts the company had. According to Beau Box's website, the property subtype is office and retail, and Alvarez says he would expect to see such a development go up there. The buying LLC is represented by Paul Pepitone, who declined to disclose plans for the property when reached by Daily Report. Pepitone also represents SNF Enterprises LLC, which last week completed the purchase of a parcel in nearby Highland Hill Estates for $1.35 million, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court. It is not clear whether the...

Andrews: Reforms may be on the way for the mortgage interest deduction

Happy Tax Day. And happy birthday to my 85-year-old father, who has shared this day with the IRS since they officially designated April 15 as Tax Day in 1955. I know we've all been preparing for this day over the past few days, weeks and months (for Tax Day, that is—sorry, Dad); calculating our various deductions, searching for receipts and wishing we had started earlier. Reforming one of those deductions—the mortgage interest deduction—is once again being discussed. U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, a Republican from Michigan and outgoing chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has proposed sweeping changes to the tax code, including a reduction in the mortgage interest deduction based on the amount of indebtedness one has when securing a home. Current tax law allows a taxpayer to deduct interest payments on up to $1 million in qualified indebtedness. According to

Cook: Several offers rejected before Citiplace III sold for $7,825,000

Several offers were made on the 43,000-square-foot Citiplace III building at 6100 Corporate Blvd. before the owner—6100 Associates LLC, represented by developer Tommy Spinosa—decided to accept an offer of $7,825,000 from Wolf, Et Al, LC, whose registered agent is Charles Bondy and officers are Price Jr., Clifton and Brent LeBlanc. "Good quality buildings with constant income streams are difficult to locate in this market," says Ty Gose of NAI/Latter & Blum, who brokered the deal. "This was a good quality building with good quality tenants." The building was completed in 2002, and its tenants include BancorpSouth, which leases approximately 20,000 square feet, and the local offices of the Federal Housing Administration. Sources close to the transaction indicate that rental rates range from about $21 to $28 per square foot, and the building was nearly 67% occupied at the time of sale. The new owners intend to continue to lease the building and have included it in their...

Dairy Queen planned next to Juban Crossing

Plans are underway for a new Dairy Queen restaurant that will be located across the street from Juban Crossing. Gretna businessman Pete Vicari, who owns several DQ franchise outlets in southeast Louisiana—including the one on Sherwood Forest Boulevard that opened in 2012—has a purchase option on a nearly 1-acre vacant tract directly across from the planned mixed-use development, according to his broker, Mark Hebert. The deal is expected to close in the next three months, and construction will begin immediately, Hebert says. When completed, the new DQ—one of only a handful in this market—will be the first quick-serve restaurant in the Juban Crossing area. It won't be the last, though, according to Doug Ferris, who represents Juban Development Co., which is selling the 38,500-square-foot tract. Now that construction has finally begun on Juban Crossing, Ferris says interest from retailers and restaurant chains has picked up considerably. "The interest has been...

On the bright side

Judging by the packed house at the 2014 Trends in Real Estate Seminar, business is looking up.

Realtors eye emerging national retail trends for potential impact on BR

If national trends are any indication, Baton Rouge could eventually see brick-and-mortar Amazon stores or same-day delivery for mall shoppers in the near future, says Jonathan Walker, commercial sales and leasing executive at Maestri-Murrell Real Estate. Walker, who was among the speakers at the TRENDS in Real Estate Seminar on Thursday, points to the federal Marketplace Fairness Act—proposed legislation that would permit state governments to collect sales use taxes from online retailers—among emerging trends that could eventually have a local impact. Another, Walker says, is Deliv—a smartphone app that delivers mall shoppers' purchases to their doorsteps within 60 minutes—allowing them to shop hands-free. In addition to Walker's overview of Baton Rouge's retail market, Branon Pesnell of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate spoke on the area's office market at the...

BR showing signs of becoming a primary market for office, retail investment

Jonathan Walker told today's TRENDS in Real Estate Seminar crowd that Baton Rouge—which has traditionally been considered a secondary market for office and retail investment on the national level, compared to cities such as Dallas, Houston and Atlanta—is beginning to show signs of becoming a primary market. "We've started to see some of that change a little bit," Walker said, pointing to recent deals including CB&I's acquisition of The Shaw Group; Cincinnati-based Viking Partners' purchase of the Bluebonnet Parc Shopping Center; and Texas-based TBG Capital's investment in Perkins Rowe. "Baton Rouge has great employment numbers and population growth, and I think people are starting to take notice." On the other hand, Branon Pesnell of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate warned that minimum options for large blocks of space above 10,000 square feet and limited available parking—especially downtown—might deter some large investments and projects. Aside from the space...

Led by big gains in higher-end home sales, BR residential market 'on fire'

Big gains in sales of homes priced at $300,000 and above over the past year have the Greater Baton Rouge residential market "on fire" right now, said Tom Cook, who was among the presenters at today's TRENDS in Real Estate Seminar. Sales of homes priced above $400,000 saw a particularly significant increase of 55% between March of last year and February, Cook said, while new home sales between $300,000 and $400,000 also rose by 37% over the same time frame. "Still, the bulk of the market is in the smaller home market," said Cook, of Cook, Moore & Associates, who estimates sales of homes below $300,000 account for approximately 77% of total sales in the market. Sales of homes priced between $225,00 and $300,000 were up 33% between March of last year and February, while those priced between $100,000 and $225,000 were up just shy of 9%. On the multifamily front, average apartment rents increased by about 1.5% during 2013 in the Baton Rouge area, which is in line with increases seen in...

Outlook for industrial growth 'beyond robust,' but investors cautioned not to throw too much money at pending boom

The local industrial economy appears to be "beyond robust," says Scot Guidry of Mike Falgoust & Associates Commercial Real Estate. But while Guidry encouraged his audience at the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division's annual TRENDS in Real Estate Seminar today to talk up the good news, he also cautioned them to be careful about investing too much money based on the premise that $23 billion or so worth of projects will be built in the Capital Region. Some of those expected projects may never be built, he says, and some may not be built at the scale first announced. Still, he says, an improving national economy and a "race to the Mississippi River" by chemical manufacturers looking to build new plants or expand their footprints has led to higher prices and occupancy rates in the industrial real estate sector. Supply is tight in many prime areas, though many older spaces, particularly near Choctaw Drive, remain vacant. Small and midsize companies...

Eisenberg: Economic indicators positive, but BR should prepare for end of energy boom

While economist Elliot Eisenberg—keynote speaker for today's TRENDS in Real Estate Seminar—enthusiastically called the state of the Louisiana and Baton Rouge economies a "happy story," he warned that the energy boom won't last forever. "You know it will end," Eisenberg told those gathered this morning at the BREC Independence Park Theatre for the half-day seminar. "Energy booms always end. I would try and plan for what happens the day after. Lafayette in '86 wasn't a happy place, remember that. Nothing good lasts forever. Don't say this time will be different, because it won't be different." Still, Eisenberg detailed a mostly optimistic outlook for the state and Capital Region, celebrating the the area's low unemployment rate, labor force growth—which is above the national average—and 5% increase in home prices since last year. "You're a happy city and a happy state, you really are," said Eisenberg, a nationally acclaimed economist and speaker based in...

'Massive,' vacant Sears building on Greenwell Springs slated for renovation

A partnership owned by members of the Torrance and Salvaggio families—who own the local design/build company Salco Construction—has signed a purchase agreement for the vacant Sears building at 6220 Greenwell Springs Road and plans to renovate the structure and offer it for lease. "It's a massive building sitting at the intersection of Greenwell Springs, Choctaw Drive and Lobdell," says Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who is brokering the deal. "It's a great piece of property." The building, which dates to the mid-1950s, is 78,000 square feet and sits on 5 acres. For years, it housed Sears' home delivery business, which is now located in Gonzales. Jeff Torrance says Salco will renovate the building, fence it and offer it up for lease as commercial/industrial space. Hebert estimates the lease price would be around $2 per square foot. "What's incredible is that this much space is available in the middle of the city at a traffic light," Hebert says. The...

Iconic Kean's building on Perkins Road purchased by Pizzolatos

The former Kean's building at 3109 Perkins Road has new owners—Clifton Pizzolato, and his wife, Tracie—who acquired the 2,417-square-foot building Monday from its longtime owner, Frank Kean, for $564,295. It's unclear what the Pizzolatos are planning for the site, despite speculation about a seafood market and deli or some sort of seafood-related business. Pizzolato is estranged from his siblings, who own and operate Tony's Seafood in north Baton Rouge and also Louisiana Fish Fry Products. The two factions of the family have been embroiled in a heated legal battle since last year and Clifton Pizzolato is no longer associated with Tony's. Earlier this year, Tony's issued a statement saying it has no plans to open a second location in Baton Rouge. The Clifton Pizzolato family has declined to comment on its plans at this time. But Hank Saurage of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, who brokered the deal along with Carmen Austin, says he believes the new owners will...

BR construction employment up 7% in February

Approximately 46,800 Baton Rougeans were employed in the construction industry in February, roughly 2,900 more than during the same month in 2013, an increase of 7%. According to the latest monthly jobs report from the Associated General Contractors of America, released today, Baton Rouge's year-over-year increase in February was good enough for a No. 51 ranking among the 339 U.S. metro areas tracked in the report. Baton Rouge and 174 other metro areas posted a year-over-year increase in February, AGCA says, while 106 metros saw construction employment decline and 58 posted stagnant figures. "It is encouraging that contractors added workers in so many locations despite severe weather that delayed some project starts," says Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, in a press release. "At the same time, it's clear that the upturn in construction is far from universal.

Coastal Urgent Care, DaVita file plans for new medical centers in BR

Coastal Urgent Care, a medical facility with locations in Gonzales and Houma, is planning to build a Baton Rouge location at 9808 Bluebonnet Blvd., according to a plan review application recently filed with the city-parish Department of Public Works. The approximately 3,200-square-foot office is projected to cost $270,000. Meanwhile, DaVita has plans to build a new dialysis center in Mid City at 2901 Florida St. According to its application, the 6,200-square-foot facility is estimated to cost $1.2 million. Interstate Battery—which already has a Baton Rouge location off of Airline Highway—also recently filed an application to build a 5,100 square-foot warehouse at 11131 Airline Highway, projected to cost $680,000. Ryson Builders­—which has locations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans—also filed an application to construct an approximately 5,800-square-foot office warehouse at 14858 South Harrell’s Ferry Road, projected to cost $450,000. Plans for a new...

BR said to be best-performing post-recession housing market in nation

The Baton Rouge metro area housing market is performing about 42% better than it was during pre-recession "normal levels," making it the best performing market among the 350 in the nation included in the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index report, released Monday. In calculating each metro area's index score, the NAHB uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permits from the U.S. Census Bureau. As for the pre-recession, "normal levels" of activity used to compare current data to, NAHB says it uses permit and price data from 2000-2003, as well as employment data from 2007. Baton Rouge is ranked as the top-performing large metro area in the country in the latest index report, topping others cities in the top 10 such as Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and New Orleans—which is ranked No. 9. Nationwide, the U.S. average index score...

Andrews: Getting private skin in the mortgage lending game a good thing

Since the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill—which would wind down government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a new government entity—was announced last month, there has been lots of partisan positioning, with some eager to show why it is the best thing since sliced bread and others why it's the worst thing since the designated hitter (don't get me started). But one issue brought up regarding the proposed legislation is right on the money and could go a long way toward improving the quality of residential mortgage loans being originated in this country through Fannie and Freddie. The bill—which is similar to others that preceded it, such as the Corker-Warner Bill—looks at how residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are put together and sold to private investors, a valuable process that provides liquidity to the market. These MBS's will have certain levels of guarantee to make them attractive to investors, with...

Cook: New subdivision off Stumberg planned

A new 44-lot subdivision is set to be developed on a 10-acre site on Stumberg Lane, north of Coursey Boulevard, following last week's purchase of the land by DAGR LLC for $625,000, or about $1.35 per square foot. Prior to the closing, the buyer was able to get the subdivision plan approved, with typical lots measuring 50 feet by 120 feet. "Everyone seems to be scrambling around trying to find land to develop because of the increasing demand," says Doug Ferris at RE/MAX First Commercial Properties, who represented the seller, Kilowatt Klub. The purchasers will most likely sell the lots in bulk to a volume home builder such as DSLD Homes or D.R. Horton, but they would not reveal their immediate plans for the property. DAGR LLC was represented in the deal by Jonathan Starns of Donnie Jarreau Real Estate, who is also a registered officer for the purchasing LLC and previously developed Hidden Grove off Coursey, which featured similarly sized lots that were sold in bulk to DSLD.

Wampold nears completion of luxury apartment project in NOLA

A luxury high-rise apartment building in New Orleans being developed by Mike Wampold is nearing completion and will be ready for its first tenants in June. "We unfurled the banner advertising it last week, and already we're getting tons of calls," says Wampold. The project, called 100 Elk, is a 96-unit, 17-story building on the edge of the Central Business District at the corner of Elk Place and Rampart Street. Formerly known as Elk Place, the 1970s-era building was dilapidated when Wampold acquired it in 2011 from the late Marie Bickham. He has spent some $20 million over the past year turning the property into a high-rise complex with one-, two- and three-bedroom units that rent for between $2 and $2.25 per square foot—about 50% more than new residential units in downtown Baton Rouge are fetching. "It's a very different market," says Wampold. "It is much bigger, much more urban, much more competitive … buildings are being built up right and left." Wampold's renovation...

Council to consider $1.2 million budget amendment for River Center upgrades

The Metro Council will consider Wednesday an amendment to the city-parish's 2014 budget to appropriate $1.2 million to the Baton Rouge River Center for facility upgrades and equipment. General Manager Todd Mitchell says the funding request for the upgrades is separate from the $50,000 the Metro Council allocated to the River Center in August for a study on facility enhancement needs. "We're still in the meeting phases of the renovations study," Mitchell says, adding that he is meeting with theater users such as the symphony and the ballet to make sure the study addresses their biggest needs. Immediate improvements that the $1.2 million will cover include an expansion of the facility's wireless Internet network, estimated to cost about $320,000; $250,000 for food and beverage equipment; and approximately $110,000 in new concession carts and beer portals. Repairs include fixing exterior lighting and upgrading the arena's electrical system. Mitchell says the Wi-Fi upgrade will likely...

Initial design, groundwork on first phase of Ardendale getting underway

Plans are moving forward for Ardendale, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority's 200-acre urban village development in Mid City formerly known as Smiley Heights. The RDA is planning to solicit bids next month for the first phase of infrastructure work, which will include clearing and grubbing of the site. Design plans are also underway for EBR Schools' Career Academy High School and Baton Rouge Community College's East Campus, which will include an automotive training center. The high school and satellite community college campus will be among the hallmarks of the first phase of Ardendale. "It is progressing and everything is on track," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour, who met earlier this month with EBR Schools Superintendent Bernard Taylor to discuss the design of the career academy. Construction of both facilities is scheduled to begin in January of next year and be completed in time for the beginning of the 2016 fall semester. Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Community...

Large mixed-use development planned on 120 acres near L'Auberge

Plans for the development of a "destination village community resort" over 120 acres stretching from River Road to Nicholson Drive were among the applications filed with the Planning Commission before today's deadline to have issues taken up at the commission's May 19 meeting. Rhaoul Guillaume Sr., president of local engineering firm GOTECH, filed the plans for the Pointe-Marie, which map out a three-part resort and residential development that includes a Village Center District, a Central Square District and a Motor Coach Resort. Guillaume has previously told Daily Report that Pointe-Marie—which lies near L'Auberge Casino & Hotel and borders the LSU Innovation Park—would have a "family atmosphere, using a similar concept to Seaside, Florida," but with "Louisiana-themed architecture." According to the concept plan, the development would include 565 low-density residential units and 285 medium-density residential units, as well as 275,000 square feet of...

RDA eyes 30 acres between downtown, Mid City for next big redevelopment effort

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority will request funds from the state to begin planning the large-scale redevelopment of a 30-acre site between downtown and Mid City, anchored by the former Entergy property that's located in the center of the site. The RDA, which acquired the Entergy property late last year, wants to turn the 6.2-acre property into a mixed-use development with, possibly, a railway station that would service a passenger train line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. "If you look at that area and you look at the catalytic project that can happen at the Entergy site, whether we have a train station there or not, there's a tremendous amount of potential there," says Walter Monsour, president and CEO of the RDA. "We want to look into what we can do to...

'Momentous' step taken in development of Model Block in Mid City

Architects Scott Ritter and Steve Maher, along with developer Danny McGlynn, closed today on $1.68 million in loans that will enable them to move forward with their urban renewal plans for the 2900 block of Government Street in Mid City. The plan, known as Model Block, calls for rehabbing the entire block and renovating the vacant Darensbourg Building at the corner of Government and Bedford Drive, which will become the new offices of Ritter Maher Architects. Plans also call for redoing the streetscape, increasing security and lighting, and improving the facades of neighboring buildings, including those home to the Atomic Pop Shop and Liberty Tax Service, among others. IBERIABANK provided conventional financing for the deal, while the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority made available gap financing so the project could get started. "This deal could not have been done without cooperation from the RDA," says Ritter. "They have been patient and helpful as we have tried to close this...

BR group's bid for Six Flags redevelopment rejected

A local group's bid to redevelop the Jazzland/Six Flags theme park in New Orleans East was again turned down by the city agency that owns the property. Tonya Pope, who describes herself as a theme park consultant, had submitted a bid to the New Orleans Industrial Development Board to redevelop the 150-acre site, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina. But the IDB rejected her proposal on Tuesday, and also that of another bidder, citing concerns over developer qualifications and lack of firm financial commitments. "Both bidders had the same problem: There was no equity," says Alan Phillipson, president of the IDB. "Hopefully we are going to have someone come along with capital or these guys can come back when they show us they have money to put on the plate. … But to come into a $100 million project and have no skin in the game makes no sense." Though Pope, who has...

10 acres off Stumberg sell for $625,000

A 10-acre plot of land off of Stumberg Lane is among a few notable land deals that were recently recorded by the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court. Dagr LLC, represented by Brandon Dodson and Jonathan Starns, purchased the Stumberg property for $625,000 on Monday. The seller in the deal was Kilowatt Klub, represented by Kenneth Russell Jr. Meanwhile, a parcel off of Arlington Road sold for $1.36 million to Gal Leasing LLC, represented by George Lato. The seller in the deal—which was also recorded with the clerk of court on Monday—was Sherwood Pointe LLC, represented by Edward Rotenberg. Also on Monday, KPNC Properties LLC acquired five lots on the corner of Cloverland Avenue and Benefit Drive near Airline Highway from Stephen and Donna St. Cyr for $643,500. Other notable deals include the $467,500 sale of a 3-acre piece of property on the corner of Hooper and Lovett roads in Central, and the $450,000 sale of a 4-acre tract at 9955 Florida Blvd. to Glynnwell Enterprise LLC,...

Andrews: How Fannie Mae found success in the multifamily business

In recent columns we've looked at the proposed legislation aimed at restructuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises currently under the control of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. You probably know Fannie and Freddie in the context of their single-family business, whereby they buy single-family mortgages from banks and residential mortgage companies to return liquidity to the market. What you might not know is that Fannie and Freddie are also active in the commercial segment, providing liquidity for multifamily properties in much the same way. We have heard the stories of how the residential side of things got so out of whack during the credit crisis and why some think that a significant restructure is in order—but what about the commercial side? The story is quite different in the commercial space, where Fannie's and Freddie's operations...

Cook: AutoZone closes on Airline Highway site for new store, regional warehouse

AutoZone Development Corp. closed late last week on a 2.29-acre site off Airline Highway, across the street from the Home Depot at 8181 Airline Highway, at a price of $775,000, or roughly $7.75 per square foot. AutoZone plans to build a 30,000-square-foot store on the site—much larger than the typical 7,000- to 9,000-square-foot store for the Memphis-based chain—which will serve as a prototype and regional hub for stores in the Baton Rouge metro area. A 7,000-square-foot retail store will adjoin a 23,000-square-foot warehouse distribution storage facility on the site, says Austin Earhart of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate, who represented AutoZone in the deal. With the new store as a regional hub, if you go to the AutoZone on Florida Boulevard and they are out of the headlight you need, you can pay for the headlight and they will deliver it to you at any location from the regional warehouse on Airline. This helps AutoZone retain the sale and discourages the customer from...

B.R. group to pitch plan for redeveloping former Six Flags in N.O.

A Baton Rouge-based group that includes former Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle will again go before a city agency in New Orleans today to pitch plans for redeveloping the Jazzland/Six Flags theme park in New Orleans East, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina. The company, Paidia Entertainment, is owned by Tonya Pope, who describes herself as a theme park consultant and has tried unsuccessfully twice before to put together a deal to resurrect the park, which originally opened in the early 2000s. She asked Kyle, whom she knows through family connections, to join her team several years ago and says he will serve as CFO if she is successful in getting the bid to redevelop the park—which is not at all a certainty. Though Pope was the only bidder in February when she submitted a $50 million proposal to redevelop the site as a Louisiana-style theme park with a water park, studio back lot and retail space, her plan has since come under fire. Members of the New Orleans...

Home sales: All conditions favorable

The Trends in Real Estate Seminar will be held April 10.

State Farm building in Towne Center sold to REIT for $15.4 million

A Phoenix-based real estate investment trust has acquired the former State Farm building at Towne Center for $15.4 million. In a transaction that closed late Friday, Cole Capital—which has a portfolio worth more than $14 billion—purchased the 65,000-square-foot building at 2370 Towne Center Blvd. from Alsation Land Company Baton Rouge LLC. Ty Gose of NAI/Latter & Blum, who was the local listing and selling agent for the deal, says the sale is a good sign for the local economy, but will likely not mean any changes for the building, which no longer houses State Farm offices but is a satellite office for some 200 employees of CB&I. "Cole Capital is a REIT that strictly purchases real estate for investment, so they hope CB&I stays in there for the long term," he says. "Baton Rouge is now on the list for institutional buyers and lenders. This sale is further confirmation of that trend, and I expect to see more deals like this in the future." The building was constructed in...

Commerce Centre land in Prairieville sells for $3.5 million

First American Bank and Trust has sold the final 15 available lots at Commerce Centre, a commercial park in Prairieville located at Airline Highway and La. 42, for $3,480,000. The buyer was Commerce Center 42 LLC, whose registered agent with the Louisiana Secretary of State is Raymond E. Heck of Baton Rouge. "The buyers saw this as a great investment opportunity for the development of build-to-suits and the sale of commercial lots within a rapidly growing parish," says Justin Langlois of Mike Falgoust & Associates, who represented the seller in the deal. Scot Guidry, also with Mike Falgoust & Associates, represented the buyer. The 15 available lots in the park cover just under 16 acres. —Staff report

Planning Commission members could be liable for zoning code change, says attorney

An attorney for two property owners suing developer Tommy Spinosa over Rouzan, the traditional neighborhood development that surrounds their homes and property, says Planning Commission members could be personally liable for actions they took Monday to amend the city’s TND zoning ordinance. “I’m not saying we will sue them personally,” says Alex St. Amant. “But there could be some personal liability against them.” At its meeting Monday night, the commission voted to amend the city’s zoning code, removing a requirement that a developer have unified and complete control over all the property within the boundaries of a TND—a change that could potentially benefit Spinosa. St. Amant’s clients have been fighting Spinosa over Rouzan for more than six years, arguing, among other things, that his development was improperly zoned as a TND because Spinosa did not have control over their 5 acres of property and a servitude connecting the...

South Choctaw Drive warehouse sells for $1.6 million

The Reads-Perkins Moving Systems warehouse and property, located at 7635 S. Choctaw Drive, was sold on Friday for $1,635,000 to 7635 Choctaw LLC, represented by Matthew L. Mullins, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. The seller—7635 Land LLC—is managed by Milton M. Perkins III, who is also the president of Reads-Perkins. Perkins was not available for comment this morning, but his father, Milton Perkins Jr., founder of the family-run business, says the company has no immediate plans to move locations. The South Choctaw Drive property is 6.3 acres, and the moving company's mixed-use building is approximately 61,000 square feet—divided into roughly 51,000 square feet of warehouse space and 11,000 square feet of office space—according to its property listing on Donnie Jarreau Real Estate's website. According to the listing, the building includes four docks, 16 doors and 12 drive-in bays. Reads-Perkins Moving Systems is an...

Realtors may rethink controversial demolition request

The Louisiana Realtors Association may reconsider the request it filed earlier this month with the Planning Commission to demolish a 93-year-old house at 821 Main St. downtown to make way for a new headquarters. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana opposes tearing down the property, which is a historic home but has been substantially altered over the years and is not considered architecturally significant. FHL has vowed to fight the demolition request when it comes up for consideration. After a meeting Thursday between LRA executives and the FHL board of directors, both sides seem encouraged they can find a workable solution. "At this point we are glad to sit down with them," says Scott Johnson, LRA's general counsel. "I can't make any prediction, but I would say with the information we got yesterday we have to go back and look at all the options." The LRA's facilities committee...

Land purchased off Siegen for FedEx distribution center

The company that filed a permit application last year to develop a FedEx Ground distribution center on Reitz Avenue near Siegen Lane today acquired the 17.7-acre tract for $5.77 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Indianapolis, Ind.-based Scannell Properties #171 LLC submitted a permit application with DPW to build the 175,374-square-foot center last month, after the Planning Commission approved the final plans at its January meeting. The center, which will be located near Siegen Lane and Interstate 10, is projected to cost $11.5 million and cover 14.5 acres. FedEx filed plans for the warehouse–which required the Planning Commission and Metro Council to rezone the land from C-2 heavy commercial to Planned Unit...

Planning Commission to take up second phase of Harveston

More than 20 of 73 homes have been sold in the first phase of The Preserve at Harveston, John Fetzer and Mike Wampold's planned community straddling the Bluebonnet Boulevard extension. Now, the developers are moving forward with the second phase. On Monday, they will go before the Planning Commission for approval of their final development plan for the 124-lot second phase in the sprawling 1,200-acre Preserve. "We've been pleased with the level of demand," says Fetzer. "We have a real good product, and we're just pleased the buying public appreciates what we're offering." A handful of residents have already moved into the development and Fetzer says the level of activity is gradually building. Plans are also underway to develop 20 townhomes of about 2,000 square feet each in phase one. Last summer, the developers began moving forward with plans for a second development, the Lakes at Harveston, which will be adjacent to The Preserve but developed on a noncontiguous, 300-acre tract...

Appeals court denies rehearing case on Rouzan's zoning status

The First Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow today to developer Tommy Spinosa, refusing to reconsider its recent ruling that invalidated Rouzan's zoning designation as a traditional neighborhood development. In February, a three-judge panel ruled that Rouzan violates the city's TND ordinance because Spinosa did not have complete ownership and control of all the property within the boundaries of the mixed-use development—including a servitude—when it was rezoned by the Metro Council in 2008. Whether Spinosa will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the case remains to be seen. In the meantime, the Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss next week an amendment to the TND ordinance that would remove the requirement that developers have "unified control" over all property within a TND's boundaries. "The purpose of the [amendment] is to address a serious problem...

Capital Region home sales rise 10.6% in February

While home sales in the eight-parish Capital Region rose 10.6% in February compared to sales during February last year, the average sale price declined 0.6% on the month. Inventory shrank by nearly 10%. According to the latest monthly report from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, released today, February home sales totaled 593 in the Capital Region, up from 536 a year earlier during the month. Sales in February were also up from the 519 recorded in January—when sales were up 8.6% over January 2013. East Baton Rouge Parish home sales last month were up 7.8%, at 304, compared to 282 in February a year ago. Livingston Parish posted a 20.5% increase in sales, with 100 homes sold in February, up from 83 a year earlier. Ascension Parish's 122 home sales last month was just three fewer than were sold in February 2013, or a 2.4% drop. The five other parishes included in GBRAR's Capital Region report are West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Iberville and...

Andrews: Another bill aimed at winding down Fannie and Freddie emerges

Last week a bipartisan duo of U.S. Senators announced the development of a housing finance reform agreement to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises charged with purchasing home mortgages from residential mortgage originators, packaging them into securities and selling those to willing investors. Five years ago, both companies went into receivership. They've been operating under the watchful eye of the Federal Housing Finance Agency ever since, while government officials have debated the best ways to release the federal government and American taxpayers from being the financial backstop for the mortgage industry. The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, authored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and ranking member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is the latest attempt at a GSE restructuring. "Our housing finance system is badly in need of reform. And it is clear from the reaction to our announcement last week...

Cook: O'Reilly Auto Parts on Walker South Road sells for $1.4 million

The O'Reilly Auto Parts store at 29790 Walker South Road was purchased on Friday by 500 Laurel LLC for $1,405,000. The 6,800-square-foot store is located on a site measuring 38,499 square feet total. Kent Walker of Donnie Jarreau Real Estate, who brokered the transaction, says "this is the second time I have sold this building and its income stream," adding the most recent sale represents revenue potential of more than $200 per square foot. Walker says the buyer—who will continue to lease the building to O'Reilly—was not really interested in the price of the real estate, and was instead looking for the income stream to replace another building recently sold in the buyer's portfolio. "There was a sufficient amount of time remaining on the lease to make it attractive to the purchaser, and the rate escalated throughout the remaining term, so it would improve the investors position as time goes on," says Walker. Sources close to the transaction say the buyer did quite a bit...

Young resigns as La. Realtors Association CEO after 26 years

After 26 years at the helm of the Louisiana Realtors Association, CEO Malcolm Young has resigned. In an email statement, LRA President Matt Ritchie, a commercial realtor in Alexandria, says Young is stepping down to pursue new career opportunities and to spend more time with his family. "During his 26 years with Louisiana Realtors, Young helped guide the association to a position among the most respected state realtor organizations in the nation," Ritchie says. Young tells Daily Report he resigned Friday and is "looking at bigger opportunities on a national level." Young's resignation comes as the organization finds itself in a battle with the Foundation for Historical Louisiana over a downtown building it has optioned for purchase and wants to demolish in order to build new headquarters. The association's architect is set to meet with the FHL board Thursday afternoon to...

Rouzan redux

There's an old saying about being careful what you wish for.

Spinosa files for First Circuit rehearing on Rouzan TND status

As expected, attorneys for developer Tommy Spinosa filed Wednesday with the First Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing in his case over the validity of Rouzan's zoning as a traditional neighborhood development. Last month, a three-judge panel nullified Rouzan's zoning as a TND on the grounds that the developer did not have full ownership and control over all the property within the boundaries of the TND when the Metro Council rezoned it in 2008. In his application for a rehearing, Spinosa argues that the First Circuit failed to give proper deference to the trial court's factual findings and failed to apply the presumption of validity to the zoning ordinance. More significantly, he argues that the existence of a non-exclusive servitude of passage—in this case, a road—does not deprive the owner of control of his property. In its ruling, the First Circuit said...

FHL opposing demolition of downtown home by Louisiana Realtors

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana says it will fight the proposed demolition of the Louisiana Realtors Association's downtown offices, a 93-year-old former residence at 821 Main St. The Realtors group filed a permit with the city-parish Planning Commission last week to demolish the home and build a new headquarters on site. In a statement issued today, the historical foundation says it will discuss the matter at its meeting next Thursday and subsequently deliver a formal recommendation to the Planning Commission, adding that representatives of the Realtors group have been invited to discuss the matter. In its demolition application, the Realtors say the building has been significantly modified and renovated several times, detracting from its original historical value. "The structure was investigated for its potential adaptive reuse but it has been determined the nature and condition is not suitable for the purpose and use of the new owner," the permit application states. Collis...

EBR housing authority set to begin $3.67M renovation of Roosevelt Terrace

The East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority's nonprofit development arm, Partners for Progress, is embarking on a $3.67 million renovation of the Roosevelt Terrace apartments at 1225 Roosevelt St., between Nicholson Drive and River Road, says Morise Duffin, COO of Partners for Progress. The project, which will convert 50 apartment units into 40 larger units, is expected to begin in April, with an anticipated completion date of May 1, 2015. The 44-year-old Roosevelt Terrace apartments have been on the top of the Housing Authority's list of developments in need of rehabilitation since the 1990s, Duffin says. Tax credits have recently made the project possible. The project will reconfigure 20 one-bedroom units into 10 three-bedroom units; 10 three-bedroom units into 10 two-bedroom units; and 20 two-bedroom units into 20 one-bedroom units. It will also update amenities and appliances and add a wrought iron fence around the nine-building development. Duffin notes that the project is in...

440 on Third on track to complete construction by end of year

The mixed-use development planned in the former Capital One Bank building—440 on Third—is fully under construction and on track for completion by the end of the year, says Dyke Nelson, who acquired the building last year. "We are pretty much done with the demolition and about to start construction of the interior portion of the apartments," Nelson says, adding that construction on Matherne's Supermarket, which will open on the first floor of the building in the fall, will begin soon. Nelson says the nine-story development is still looking for tenants for the remaining 40,000 square feet of commercial space on the second, eighth and ninth floors. He is willing to offer naming rights for the exterior of the building if he can find a single tenant to occupy a significant portion of the space—such as the top two floors—Nelson says. Renderings of the ninth floor,...

Office condo on Cedar Park Ave. sells for $425K

An office condo at 11670 Cedar Park Ave. that’s home to Garda Cash Logistics and Acadian Custom Installations has been sold for $425,000 to an investment and ownership company, 4J Holdings-I LLC. Jeremy Perque—who co-owns and manages the company along with Jake Lambert, Jacob Loeske and Joshua Loeske—says the purchase is an investment. "[4J Holdings-I] finds attractive commercial properties that are occupied, and we buy them and hold them and lease them," Perque says. "We're hoping to keep the current tenants in the space." The two-suite office condo is located on a side street off of Siegen Lane and parallel to Industriplex Boulevard. The deal closed on Feb. 27 and was recorded with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court on Friday. The seller in the deal was Stephen St. Cyr, who owns Vivid Ink Graphics and Printing, and in December purchased the former Circuit City...

Andrews: Appraisal rules and report formats modified

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice is a collection of guiding principles for the appraisal practice that requires appraisers to follow standard practices in preparing valuation reports. USPAP previously had three report formats for real property and personal property appraisal assignments: a Self-Contained Appraisal Report, a Summary Appraisal Report and a Restricted Use Appraisal Report. The Self-Contained Appraisal Report was the one that I used most frequently in my banking days, and I swear that the fees were based on the weight of the document. Before we started receiving digital copies of these reports—which can number in the hundreds of pages—a complex office or retail property with a complicated lease structure would easily eat up an ancient stand of trees in paper. Despite this level of detail in the reports, many of my lending colleagues would flip to the page with the value and ignore the appraiser's basis for his or her valuation,...

Level Homes breaks ground on projects in Prairieville, Zachary

Baton Rouge-based Level Homes says it recently broke ground on two Capital Region residential developments. Along with plans to build approximately 100 homes in the Shadows of Ascension subdivision in Prairieville, Level Homes is also among a number of builders that are expected to combine to put up more than 1,000 homes in the Americana, Zachary's first traditional neighborhood development. Homes in the Shadows of Ascension, which is located off Parker Road, are priced starting in the $270,000s and are expected to be completed in late spring. Meanwhile, the homes in Americana—priced at the same starting point—will range from approximately 1,850 to 3,100 square feet, with three to five bedrooms. A model home is currently under construction, with five of the homes by Level Homes expected to be completed in the next two months. The Pointe, Americana's community center, is already complete and the YMCA on site is also up and running. Level Homes managing member Todd...

Cook: 33 condos in The Jeffersonian sold for $1.9 million

IBERIABANK has sold 33 condos in The Jeffersonian complex at 7950 Jefferson Highway for $1,910,000 to KBK Real Estate LLC, represented by William V. Bosch. Tim Kleinpeter, who was also involved in the buy, says the condos were purchased very near their appraised value, but only after several lower offers were made. The sale price, at approximately $57,900 per unit, will allow the new owners the choice of renting the condos or selling them. The property, which consists of 12 one-bedroom units and 21 two-bedroom units, is situated on a site containing 75,000 square feet. The Jeffersonian was originally a 38-unit apartment project that was converted for condominium sale, but just five of the units were sold to individuals. KBK Real Estate will make the 33 condos it purchased available for lease, but could potentially sell them individually in the future.

Uncle Earl's, Three Bones Catering owners to open new bar concept on Third Street

Along with Three Bones Catering owner Chris Meyers, the owners of Uncle Earl's bar on Perkins Road—Zac Love and Brian Ott—announced plans at a DDD meeting this morning to open a new bar concept on Third Street downtown. The as yet unnamed venture will occupy 324 and 326 Third St., formerly home to Latil's Stationery and Office Supplies, with an anticipated opening sometime this summer. The bar, which will offer draft beer, live music and a menu similar to that of local food truck Three Bones, will differ in concept and name from Uncle Earl's. Love describes the atmosphere as a "nice bar and environment where people can come and enjoy some good beer, some good music, and feel clean when they walk out," meaning smoking won't be allowed. Meyers, the new bar's chef, says the menu will focus on plate lunches, gourmet burgers, fries, tapas and specialty drinks, as well as feature beer and food pairings. While the new bar will occupy the first floor of the former stationery...

Commercial Properties to develop build-to-suits for H&E Equipment nationwide

Commercial Properties Realty Trust has inked a deal with H&E Equipment to develop build-to-suit facilities for the company, which has more than 70 stores around the country from which it leases and sells heavy construction and earthmoving equipment. "We prefer to lease facilities as opposed to owning them, and in the past we have tried to find people to do build-to-suits for us and it has been difficult," says H&E President and CEO John Engquist. "I got to talking to [Commercial Properties CEO] Carolyn Martin about it, and this made a lot of sense. It's a good deal for them and for us." H&E, a publicly traded company with headquarters off Airline Highway and annual revenues of more than $259 million, has a steady need for new facilities, opening as many as eight new stores every year, Engquist says. Under the terms of the agreement, Commercial Properties will acquire land and build facilities of varying size for H&E, depending on the particular market. H&E will then lease the...

Baker charter school finalizes purchase of Plank Road property

Charter Development Louisiana, an LLC run by Michigan-based National Heritage Academies, purchased an 8.4-acre tract of land at 14740 Plank Road in Baker for $1.25 million on Feb. 26, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court today. The seller in the deal was FR&W Baker LLC, represented by Larry B. Rabin. The property, which lies between Groom Road and Lake Mary Drive and includes a former Wal-Mart, will be the site of Advantage Charter Academy—a free public charter school opening in the fall of 2014. Construction on two thirds of the existing building will begin next week, according to a spokesperson for NHA, while the remaining space will be kept vacant for future expansion. Renovations will include a new HVAC system, a new roof, 28 classrooms, a media lab, a gymnasium, an art room, a music room, an office, and an outdoor play area. Advantage Charter Academy expects to occupy the building by mid-July. According to NHA's website, Advantage...

La. Realtors Association seeks permit to demolish downtown B.R. office

The Louisiana Realtors Association is seeking a permit from the city-parish Planning Commission to demolish its downtown offices—a 93-year-old former residence at 821 Main St.—and construct a new building on the site that would serve as the association's headquarters. The demolition permit application, filed today, says the building has been significantly modified and renovated several times, detracting from its original historical value. "The structure was investigated for its potential adaptive reuse but it has been determined the nature and condition is not suitable for the purpose and use of the new owner," the permit application states. Collis Temple Jr. currently owns the building but has a purchase agreement with the LRA. It is unclear if the purchase agreement is contingent on the demolition permit. Malcolm Young, CEO of the LRA and the applicant for the demo permit, was at a conference today and unavailable for additional comment by this afternoon's deadline. A...

Beau Box relocating B.R. headquarters to Bankers Avenue

Beau Box Real Estate is planning to move its Baton Rouge headquarters from Jefferson Highway to a new, 10,500-square-foot facility at 5500 Bankers Ave., not far from the intersection of College Drive and Corporate Boulevard. The relocation is expected to be completed in October. The real estate firm says in a prepared statement issued today that the new facility—which will cost an estimated $1.45 million to develop, according to a recently filed permit application—will provide for its "continued growth and expansion." The firm, founded in 2004, has been at its 9,100-square-foot headquarters at 8710 Jefferson Highway since April 2011, when it cited the need for additional space as the reason for moving from a 4,300-square-foot site, also located on Jefferson Highway. Also filed recently with the city-parish is a permit for the new, 24,000-square-foot office of personal injury attorney Gordon J. McKernan—better known as "G. Gordon"—who is vacating a...

Spinosa to ask First Circuit for rehearing in Rouzan ruling

Developer Tommy Spinosa plans to ask the First Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing in his case over the validity of Rouzan's zoning as a traditional neighborhood development. A three-judge panel last week nullified Rouzan's zoning as a TND on the grounds that the developer did not have full ownership and control over all the property within the boundaries of the TND when the Metro Council rezoned it in 2008. "We intend to request a rehearing," says Rouzan Marketing Director Kelly Vastine. "Planning commission matters are being discussed with various parties involved and are yet to be determined." If the appellate court denies Spinosa's request for a rehearing, the developer will have to go back before the planning commission to have the property rezoned as either a TND or a planned unit development—either of which would likely reopen a can of worms with Southdowns area...

Spinosa hired to develop Gonzales TND

Tommy Spinosa has been hired as the developer of Edenborne, a Traditional Neighborhood Development proposed for a 400-acre site in Gonzales near Interstate 10 and La. 44. A spokeswoman for Spinosa confirms the developer has been retained to help develop the project, which will include an office park, 400 single-family homes, multi-family units and retail outlets. It will also be the new site for River Parishes Community College, which is relocating to Gonzales from Sorrento later this year. "Our role will be development manager," says Spinosa's spokeswoman, Kelly Vastine. "Our responsibility will be to develop and implement the overall vision of Edenborne." Vastine was unable to provide further details about Spinosa's relationship to Edenborne or its owners, which include New Orleans native and NFL player Reggie Wayne, a wide receiver with the Indianapolis Colts. Spinosa has extensive experience developing retail and office properties, including CitiPlace on Corporate and Perkins...

Six acres at Perkins and Highland sells for $842K

A 6-acre plot of land at the corner of Perkins and Highland roads has been sold for $842,000 to Mark A. Dillon of Prairieville, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court last Thursday. The land, which is addressed at 19566 Perkins Road, was sold by businessman and former state Sen. Walter Joseph Boasso of Chalmette, according to the property transfer. Boasso's purchase last year of a home in nearby Highland Crossing for $1.89 million was No. 3 on Business Report's listing of the most expensive home sales of 2013. Neither the buyer nor the seller could be reached for additional comment as of this afternoon's deadline. Meanwhile, other recent property transfers recorded by the clerk of court include:
• D.R. Horton Inc.-Gulf Coast bought 15 lots in Mallard Crossing subdivision from Montrachet Development LLC for $740,000.

Moreau Physical Therapy plans new location near Perkins Road overpass

Moreau Physical Therapy has leased the 1,700-square-foot space at 3129 Perkins Road adjacent to Street Breads restaurant and plans to open a new location later this year at the site, which for half a century was home to the neighborhood beauty salon Frank & Bennie's. Al Moreau says he selected the site because he has long wanted to have a presence in the popular Perkins Road overpass area. "We feel like that area is underserved, and it's a great location with a lot of retail and proximity to LSU," says Moreau, who in 1999 took over the practice founded by his father in Zachary in 1977. The Perkins Road site will be the eighth location for Moreau Physical Therapy in the Capital Region and the third in Baton Rouge. Besides its company-owned-and-operated sites, Moreau also provides PT services on a contract basis at six area hospitals and clinics. While the new Perkins Road location...

La. home prices reach post-bubble highs in January

Nationwide, home prices are still 17% lower than at the peak of the housing bubble in April 2006, according to a new report out today from CoreLogic. But prices have set new, post-bubble highs in three states: Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas. And, as The Associated Press reports, average prices are within 10% of their peaks in 19 additional states. U.S. home prices rose in January after three months of declines as a tight supply of properties likely supported prices despite slower sales. CoreLogic says that prices rose 0.9% in January after dipping 0.1% in December. Over the past 12 months, home prices have risen 12%, the biggest year-over-year gain in more than eight years. As previously reported by Daily Report,

Andrews: Lessons from Warren Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett published his annual letter to stockholders last week, and while most of the updates were focused on stock performance, there were a few comments on his limited real estate holdings. If you skip all the way to page 17 of the letter you get to a philosophical section titled, "Some Thoughts About Investing," which covers two small real estate properties that he owns. Given the fabulous success of Buffett's funds over the years, I considered it worthwhile to check out his thoughts on this. My big takeaway from the letter is that, at least in Buffett's mind, real estate is a long-term investment whose ultimate success is based on sustainable income potential rather than short-term price fluctuations. He recommends against acting on the hysteria created by certain pundits who scream "buy" or "sell" when economic indicators are announced or when the Fed chair implies...

Apartment prices

The recent acquisitions of property for apartment development indicate increasing demand for quality locations.

Karl Landreneau

"The best advice I ever received for life in general was from my father: 'Always remember that your hands always fit a broom.' You can always get a job, and remember where you came from; you're not above anything. The best business advice came from a top producer named Marc Barker, who told me, 'Set yourself above the competition: Get an education.' In commercial real estate, that means earning designations like CCIM [Certified Commercial Investment Member] and SIOR [Society of Industrial and Office Realtors], and I got both."

Bluebonnet shopping center sells for $1.35 million

A retail center and neighboring business on Bluebonnet Boulevard between Perkins and Highland roads, comprising roughly 10,000 square feet combined, have sold for $1.35 million. The retail center at 8645 Bluebonnet includes three suites, each measuring about 2,500 square feet. Meanwhile, a home next door at 8655 Bluebonnet, retrofitted for commercial use—also about 2,500 square feet—is currently occupied by Banbury Cross Children's Clothing. The retail center is home to Style Salon and Spa and The Bar Method. The Children's Gallery vacated its space in the center at the end of January. The buyer of the buildings, Darla Partners LLC, plans to maintain the three current tenants, says Grey Mullins of Grey Mullins Commercial Properties, who represents the buyer and will continue to market the vacant space formerly occupied by The Children's Gallery. Mullins says the shopping center's advantageous location and high visibility made it an attractive investment for Darla...

Historic Potts House in downtown B.R. acquired by local lobbyist

After more than five years on the market, Baton Rouge's historic Potts House at 831 North St.—at the Interstate 10 intersection—has been acquired by Bud and Gay Courson for $595,209. Bud Courson, a veteran lobbyist, will use the 4,500-square-foot property as the new office for his governmental relations firm, Courson-Nickel. Part of the property will also be leased for residential. The sale, which closed Friday, is yet another positive development for the city's burgeoning downtown, says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer. "The Potts House is one of the great historic homes from the pre-Civil War era and stands as a prominent entrance to downtown in historic Spanish Town," Rhorer says. "The present zoning allows for the intended use, and I look forward to seeing the building back in commerce." Courson acquired the property from Bill and Nancy Jensen, who bought the home in the late 1960s and restored it over the ensuing decades. Built in 1846, the Potts House was just...

La. looks for its next generation of farmers

About 70% of U.S. farmland is expected to change hands within the next two decades, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. America's farmers are aging, and with about 52% of the country's land made up of small farms and ranches, it will be up to new generations of farmers to keep the industry growing. But Ricky Gonsoulin, Iberia Parish president for the Louisiana Farm Bureau, tells Gannett Louisiana it's getting harder and harder to find young people in southwest Louisiana who are interested in farming. "Who could blame them?" asks Gonsoulin, 47, whose family has farmed sugarcane for generations. "Way back when you had several young people getting out of college or trade school and getting into this business to make a living. Now the price and production costs are rising, the commodity prices are falling. It's a challenge. Your back's against the wall." Longtime rice farmer and Evangeline Parish Farm Bureau president Richard Fontenot, 44, says the cost to start a...

Wampold buys B.R.'s 'oldest skyscraper' from BRAF

Mike Wampold has acquired the 12-story State Office Building at 150 N. Third St. downtown from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation for an undisclosed price. He tells Daily Report that he's planning to turn the art deco-era building into either a residential development or a boutique hotel. "It was built in 1926 and has hand-painted murals throughout the first floor," says Wampold. "It could be a really neat apartment building or a hotel or condos. We're going to study the building and the market and see where things appear to be heading 24 or 36 months from now." This is the second time in as many months that the 12-story building has changed hands. BRAF acquired the property in late January for $10.2 million from the state, which had put it up for sale with other surplus properties as a way to raise revenues. At the time of the acquisition, BRAF said very little about its...

Court of Appeals says Rouzan violates TND ordinance

The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late Wednesday that the Rouzan Traditional Neighborhood Development off Perkins Road violates a city-parish ordinance on grounds that developer Tommy Spinosa did not have full ownership and control over all the property within the boundaries of the TND when the Metro Council rezoned it in 2008. The ruling is a significant victory for the two plaintiffs in the case—Bob Welch and Daniel Hoover—who have been fighting Spinosa and the city-parish in court for years, even as new home construction at Rouzan has gone up around their fenced-off properties. Both plaintiffs have homes and property totaling five acres in the middle of the Rouzan development—property that was bequeathed to them in 2003 by the land's original owner, Mary Ford. Upon Ford's death, the remaining 119 acres was sold to Spinosa, who petitioned the Metro Council to change the zoning from A-1 single family residential to TND. Despite much heated neighborhood...

Sales of new homes in U.S. hit 5-year high in January

U.S. sales of new homes rebounded in January to the fastest pace in more than five years, offering hopes that housing could be regaining momentum after a slowdown last year caused by rising interest rates. The Associated Press reports sales of new homes increased 9.6% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000, citing a Commerce Department report issued this morning. That was the fastest pace since July 2008. The rise came as a surprise to economists who had been forecasting a sales drop in January, in part because of a belief that activity would be held back by bad winter storms in many parts of the country. Sales had fallen 3.8% in December and 1.8% in November, leading to worries that the housing recovery could be losing momentum. The big January gain was likely to ease those concerns. Many economists believe sales of both new and previously occupied homes will rise in 2014, helped by an improving economy and job gains that will boost the number of people working.

Rouzan sells out first residential phase, begins eyeing commercial tenants

While plans for a new south Baton Rouge branch library in the heart of Rouzan fell through late last year, it apparently did not affect residential interest in the traditional neighborhood development. To date, a spokesperson for the TND off of Perkins Road says all but one of the 36 custom-home lots in the development’s first residential filing—called the Mimosa Neighborhood—have sold. On those lots, 20 homes have been built thus far, and 16 others are either in the permitting process or are under construction. Work has also begun on the second filing, the Creekside Neighborhood. In late January, eight lots were released for sale; so far, two have closed. There's no word yet on potential tenants for the Rouzan Village commercial development, but Rouzan marketing director Kelly Vastine says the lease negotiations are underway and tenants will be announced "in the coming months." —Stephanie Riegel

Andrews: Commercial real estate outlook is bright

It is good news, albeit cautiously given, that the commercial real estate outlook for 2014 is positive. Such is the report from "Expectations & Market Realities in Real Estate 2014—The Future Unfolds," an annual forecast report released jointly by the Real Estate Research Corp., Deloitte LLP and the National Association of Realtors earlier this month. Improvements in most if not all sectors of the industry are highlighted in the third annual report on the market. And while it is good news for the industry, we should also note the speed with which the market is improving, which is moderate at best. National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently said "growth in commercial real estate sectors continues at a moderate pace from a very slow pace of absorption, despite job additions to the economy," adding, "Companies appear hesitant to add new space." Across the four major food groups of real estate, office, industrial, retail and multifamily, steady...

Cook: Buyer gets good deal on Coursey land near Home Depot

Walter Property Investments has sold a roughly 3-acre, vacant outparcel lot of the Home Depot on Coursey Boulevard for $425,000, or about $3.25 per square foot. The purchaser was City Center LLC, which closed the deal on Feb. 14. It appears to be an excellent deal for the buyer, considering most of the recent land sales along Coursey have been north of $8 per square foot. The site came with a paved parking lot large enough to allow for the development of a 26,000-square-foot building. According to Kent Walker, who represented the buyer, a user has been lined up for about 10,000 square feet of space, but he could not disclose who they were at this time. "We are going to be selective about who we let develop the other 16,000 square feet, because we are in the land cheap enough to hold it for a while," says Walker. The seller, an investor from Florida who had owned the property for a fairly long period of time, was represented by Charlie Colvin with Beau Box Real Estate. There were...

'Business Report': Is the Capital Region overbuilding in multifamily?

When the Lafayette-based developers of the proposed River District unveiled plans last month for their mixed-use development on Nicholson Drive, the renderings depicted sleek, contemporary apartment buildings with a total of some 1,800 units. "That's a lot of apartments," writes Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel in a feature from the current issue. "But it's just a fraction of the more than 4,700 new multifamily units that are either proposed or under construction in the Capital Region; and that's not including as many as 2,000 units of student housing that LSU has said it wants to build in a mixed-use development of its own on Nicholson Drive about two miles south of the River District." "You take a look around at everything under construction," says Mike Wampold, who is among those developing multifamily projects. "It certainly appears we could be overbuilding." But is the perception—shared by others besides Wampold—a reality? "It depends," writes Riegel.

Clements sells 4-acre tract near River Park for $3.9 million

Pete Clements has sold a 4-acre parcel at the site of his planned River Park development to Louisiana Casino Cruises Inc., which shares an address with Penn National Gaming Inc. The latter leases nearby Hollywood Casino, according to a recent earnings report from Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., parent company of the casino's owner. Clements says the sale for $3,920,400, which was recorded by the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court today, was a long time in the making. Clements says he had agreed to sell the property to Hollywood Casino several years ago when he was first developing the railroad underpass that leads to the sites of both his development and the casino. That underpass was completed in 2011. "The casino wanted to be a part of it, and I needed access to the property from them," he says. "So we came to an agreement, and we finally just got around to closing on the deal." As to why...

New office warehouse off South Choctaw among recent permit filings

Aerie LLC—which is managed by Jeff Torrance, the president of Salco Construction—has filed an application with the city-parish to build an approximately 5,000-square-foot office warehouse at 8483 Athens Ave., next to Salco's main offices, just off of South Choctaw Drive. The building will be for an unknown future tenant, according to the filing with the Department of Public Works, and is projected to cost approximately $250,000. Other projects filing for permits with DPW in recent weeks include the new, approximately 192,000-square-foot Lee High School, projected to cost $40 million. A permit application was also filed for the new, approximately 175,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center at Reitz Avenue near Interstate 10 and Siegen Lane, projected to cost...

Alco Avenue property sells for $1.8 million

Tal Properties LLC, represented by Sidney Lejeune, has purchased 15 lots and the buildings on them at 10861 Alco Avenue—which is the listed address for Oak Woods Apartments—for $1.8 million, according to a property transfer filed Tuesday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court. Fireside Duplexes LLC, represented by Wayne Breaux, was the seller. Neither the buying nor selling parties could be reached for further comment on the sale as of this afternoon's deadline. Meanwhile, in another million-dollar transaction filed with the clerk's office, a 10-acre tract on Old Hammond Highway sold late last week for approximately $1.3 million. The buyer, Timmons International LLC, and the seller, Regional Real Estate LLC, were both represented by John and Billy Timmons, brothers and co-owners of Louisiana-based Timmons Truck Center, which has locations in Baton Rouge, Winnfield and Alexandria. In another unrelated deal, three acres of land at 10604 Coursey Blvd. were purchased for...

Big in Texas

When MAPP Construction's new Dallas-based public relations firm sent out an announcement last month introducing itself and also MAPP's recent hires in the company's Dallas office, it raised the question: What exactly is the Baton Rouge firm doing in Texas?

Onward and upward

Call it a rebound, or a slow climb. Either way, analysts say national economic conditions are turning upward.

The multifamily frenzy

When the Lafayette-based developers of the proposed River District unveiled plans last month for their mixed-use development on Nicholson Drive, the renderings depicted sleek, contemporary apartment buildings with a total of some 1,800 units.

Reed Hilderbrand recommended to head up renovation of City Hall Plaza

Plans are moving forward for the City Hall Plaza renovation, which will create green space behind City Hall, linking Galvez Plaza with Repentance Park. Reed Hilderbrand, a Cambridge, Mass.-based landscape architecture firm headed by Louisiana native and LSU alumnus Doug Reed, was selected last week by the city-parish design and planning selection board to head up a team of consultants that will do design, planning and construction implementation on the project, which downtown leaders say is part of the vision for downtown articulated in Plan Baton Rouge II. "This is going to offer a huge area for concerts and outdoor events," says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer. "It's all part of the greening of our civic and cultural attractions." The Metro Council must still approve the $310,000 contract, which is the first phase of the $3 million project, but Rhorer says money is already allocated and will come from hotel taxes dedicated to riverfront improvements. Sub-consultants...

Construction boom veterans: The time to act is now

Several hundred industrial contractors, suppliers, educators, lawyers and financiers gathered Thursday evening to hear directly from those who have been in the trenches what the coming industrial boom will mean for their businesses. Veterans from industrial construction, plant operations and human resources had cautionary tales for the crowd of listeners eager to hear how their companies can hitch their wagons to the construction boom star. The event, hosted by Regions Bank and co-sponsored by the Kean Miller law firm and Business Report, provided historical perspective on why Louisiana is a magnet for industry, especially petrochemicals, and what we can learn from previous booms. The first thing to understand, according to Dan Borné, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association, is that the impending boom did not occur out of nowhere. "We shouldn't lose sight of the gifts that have provided the platform," he said. "God gave us dead dinosaurs to create a Jurassic Park of...

Three Florida Boulevard parcels sell

Three parcels of land on Florida Boulevard, all nearby each other, traded hands in two separate deals completed earlier this week, according to property transfers filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court's office. On Monday, Tom and Joe Inc., represented by Joseph D. Tran, sold a 2.2-acre plot at 9988 Florida Blvd. to JVP Inc., represented by Joseph H. Do, for $610,000. Just down the road, two other properties—9462 and 9580 Florida Boulevard—were sold on Tuesday for $685,000 to Glendall LLC, represented by Glenda G. Calloway, the manager of family-owned Calloway Inn & Suites. The sellers were Sharp Irrevocable Short-Term Trust Number Two, represented by Jane Sharp Hamilton, and Estate of Estelle Colvin Sharp, represented by Cynthia Sharp Grillet. Despite the close proximity, there is no evidence that the land deals are related. In another unrelated property transfer this week, the board of

Oral arguments set to begin in Greens at Millerville lawsuit

A long-running legal battle between BancorpSouth and developer Windy Gladney over construction loans for Gladney's planned development off Interstate 12, The Greens at Millerville, heads to the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday for oral arguments. At issue is a judgment that was rendered against the bank in May last year by 19th Judicial District Judge William Morvant. In that ruling, Morvant dismissed the bank's $2 million claim against Gladney and his partnership, Kleinpeter-Trace, and also threw out the bank's defense to claims filed against it by Gladney in a countersuit. At the time, Morvant cited as the reason for his ruling the bank's "willful refusal to comply" with multiple discovery requests for bank records and other documents made by Gladney's attorney. BancorpSouth appealed the ruling and subsequently won a stay, which has kept the proceedings on hold until now. "We will ask that Judge Morvant's decision be upheld," says Gladney's attorney, Mary Olive Pierson,...

KPMG moves offices to One American Place from Riverside Tower North

Global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG has moved its Baton Rouge offices from Riverside Tower North after 25 years at the 450 Laurel St. tower. The Netherlands-based firm, which has roughly 40 employees in Baton Rouge, relocated to One American Place, 301 Main St., late last week. The firm says the move is part of KPMG's "Workplace of the Future" initiative, which aims for facilities that accommodate more flexible and collaborative workspaces to better support the firm's business goals. "We recognize that the way our professionals work and interact with clients is changing," says Perry Leslie, KPMG's Baton Rouge office managing partner, in a news release. "For example, we're spending less time in the office and more time with clients and when we're in the office, we need flexible space that supports greater collaboration." The firm's Baton Rouge office relocation follows similar moves made in Denver, Chicago, Boise and Tampa. —Staff report

Landreneau elected president of international CCIM Institute

Karl Landreneau, director of commercial sales and leasing for NAI Latter & Blum’s Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and Alexandria offices, has been elected as the 2014 president of the CCIM Institute, one of the largest commercial real estate networks in the world. The CCIM Institute—which Landreneau has been involved in since 2000, serving as vice president last year—confers the Certified Commercial Investment Member designation to commercial real estate agents via a curriculum of about 200 classroom hours of training and other professional requirements. There are currently nearly 10,000 CCIM-designated commercial real estate agents in the U.S. and 31 other countries. Landreneau says his role as president will require him to travel on behalf of the institute throughout the country, as well as do some international traveling, as he did while vice president last year. He says one of his top goals as president is to even further improve the educational programs for...

Cordon Rouge leaving The Courtyard Gifts & Interiors for downtown

After almost two years of running Cordon Rouge Bistro virtually on her own—with work days extending as long as 21 hours at times—owner and chef Rhonda Crosswhite has decided it's time to expand. The local bistro and bakery, which until a few weeks ago operated out of a 500-square-foot space inside The Courtyard Gifts & Interiors on Arnold Lane, is moving to a 2,400-square-foot parcel downtown at 334 Third St. "You couldn't get two cooks in the kitchen there at The Courtyard, which was really becoming a problem," Crosswhite says, adding she's looking forward to hiring some help, as well as expanding the menu. "We're going to expand the menu a little and have a liquor license." Crosswhite originally wanted to move Cordon Rouge to the Perkins Road overpass area, but says she is excited to take advantage of the downtown location—which local investor Kerry Denny purchased last March—and expand her customer base. "Being downtown with all the offices and courthouse,...

Tinseltown continues to collect dust as Siegen Lane Marketplace grows

Since closing a little more than six years ago, Cinemark's 10-screen Tinseltown USA—arguably Siegen Lane Marketplace's most prominent landmark due to its high visibility from Interstate 10—remains vacant and with little hope of ever being revived. "That building is what's known in the industry as a single-purpose building," says Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate. "You can't make it retail. With the stadium seating, there's nothing you can do but implode the building." Opening in 1996 as Baton Rouge's first movie theater with stadium seating, Tinseltown closed at the end of 2007 after developer Tommy Spinosa made a deal with Cinemark to pay the remainder of Tinseltown's long-term ground lease at Siegen Marketplace if Cinemark opened a new theater in Perkins Rowe. While

Andrews: Of course banks are selling our mortgages

A recent CNN article opened with the question: "You may have gotten a mortgage through the local branch of one of the megabanks, but did you know there's a good chance your bank turned around and sold the rights to service your loan to somebody else?" To many of us in the industry the answer would be: "Of course!" After all, that is what most banks do—they originate the loan at the local level then sell it off to an investor, returning the funds to the bank so they can lend them out again. Often times the investor who returns the liquidity to the bank is Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac—which is exactly why these government-sponsored enterprises were created decades ago—while other times the investor is a private firm who hires a servicing company to handle the payments, escrow balances and even foreclosures if it comes to that. The CNN article—titled "Regulators fear more bad...

Cook: West Baton Rouge tract purchased for warehouse development

West Side of the River Holdings LLC has purchased a 10-acre site on the north side of Commercial Drive in Port Allen for $550,000, or about $1.25 per square foot. The deal closed on Thursday. Drew Pearson of Water & Pettit Commercial Real Estate—who represented the seller, Westport Investments, and its representative, Billy Joe Buzbee—says the property has had some necessary wetlands mitigation work done, is cleared and is ready for development. The buyer was represented by Hank Saurage of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, who says the property was purchased for the development of a 115,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility with 30-foot eaves. Saurage says he cannot reveal who the tenant is, but notes construction should begin in early spring. This deal reflects the increased activity in the industrial sector due to more and more plant expansions along the Mississippi River.

Apartment complex near Southern sold; rehab planned

Jaguar Plaza, an apartment complex at 750 Harding Blvd. near Southern University, has been sold for $1.7 million to an investor who plans to rehab the property. According to a property transfer filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court's office on Friday, Joseph Kennerson sold the complex to Artisan American JPA, LP, represented by H. Elizabeth Young. The property transfer spells out some of the plans for the property. The redevelopment of the complex, which sits on a 2.55-acre plot, will include 95 apartments and is expected to cost at least $11 million and be funded in part by two separate loans from Stearns Bank National Association—an $8.6 million "construction loan" and a $2.56 million "term loan." The new owner will also be seeking low-income housing tax credits, according to the public record. —Staff report

New renderings show sleek interiors of downtown apartment projects

New interior renderings of two downtown residential development projects show sleek, contemporary apartments with clean lines, stylish furnishings and riverfront views. The renderings depict two projects being developed by BRAF and its real estate company, Commercial Properties Realty Trust. One of those projects is 525 Lafayette, the residential component of the IBM building currently under construction at Lafayette Street and the river. It will have 85 units—each with a balcony overlooking the river—and six ground-floor townhomes, which will be available for purchase. It will connect via a riverfront plaza to the eight-story IBM office tower. The other project is the Onyx Building, a $6.2 million...

Greens at Millerville could see groundbreaking later this month

After more than eight years in the planning, developer Windy Gladney is hoping to begin infrastructure work at The Greens at Millerville within the next month. Gladney—who acquired the approximately 60-acre property at Millerville Road and Interstate 12 in 2006 and was delayed in developing the project due to a long-running lawsuit involving his former partner, Jim Tanner, and their lender, BancorpSouth—has submitted plans to the DPW and is awaiting approval to begin building roads through the mixed-use development, which will include residential and retail components. Though Gladney is not yet ready to disclose his tenants for The Greens at Millerville, he confirms he has signed letters of intent with an auto dealer and also with a national health club. He also has an agreement with Alsation Land Co. of Kansas City, Mo., to develop a 320-unit apartment complex. Alsation built the State Farm Insurance Operations Center at Towne Center, which has received several local and...

Andrews: Mortgage bankers project increased loan originations

The Mortgage Bankers Association is holding its annual Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Housing Finance Convention this week in Orlando, and the word coming out so far is that loan volume will increase in the future. According to a press release from MBA, originations of commercial and multifamily mortgages are expected to grow to $300 billion in 2014, a 7% increase from 2013 volumes, and continue to rise to $333 billion in 2016. "This year will once again see fewer loans coming up against their maturities," says Jamie Woodwell, MBA's vice president of commercial real estate research. "But with still-low interest rates, improving property fundamentals, a rebound in property prices, and higher loan maturity volumes on the horizon, we anticipate mortgage originations will continue to increase in 2014." This is good news for the commercial real estate industry in general, and good for us in southern Louisiana as liquidity in the permanent loan market continues to rebound, allowing...

Cook: Walmart closes on Prairieville site for new store

Walmart, through its real estate business trust, has purchased the southeast corner of La. highways 44 and 42 in Prairieville, on which it plans to build a new 42,000-square-foot store and gas station. The sale closed on Jan. 27 for $3,022,500, or about $10.38 per square foot. Dennis Carlton of Carlton & Associates Real Estate represented the purchaser, while Gregory Bruce with Corporate Commercial Properties represented the seller. The property is currently occupied by a small strip center that's home to Bruno's Bakery, Deli and Meat Market. Demolition of the existing buildings on site should begin sometime in April or May of this year, and construction is expected to begin immediately thereafter. The road improvements to La. 42 seem to be spurring some new development in the area.

The River District

For more than six years, Lafayette developer Michael Moreno and his sister Dalis Waguespack have been working on plans for a mixed-use development on Nicholson Drive that will be located between downtown and LSU.

Who owns the block?

Owner: Schlittz & Giggles Perkins Properties (Member: Jack Warner)
As of last month, this restaurant is now owned solely by Warner, who also retains The Roux House. It's home to the pizza with a can of Schlitz Beer in every batch of dough.

Copper Mill sells

The Copper Mill Home Owners Association has purchased the Copper Mill Golf Course for $1.2 million.

J.C. Penney sells Firestone building at Cortana for $1.5 million

J.C. Penney has sold an out-parcel building at Cortana Mall that's home to Firestone Complete Auto Care for $1,553,555, a company spokesman confirms. The property, located about 100 yards from the J.C. Penney anchor store in the mall, was purchased by SMBC Leasing and Finance Inc., according to records filed Friday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court . A company spokesperson says J.C. Penney has owned the building since the early 1980s, but did not elaborate on why it was sold. J.C. Penney announced on Jan. 15 that it plans to close 33 underperforming stores and lay off 2,000 employees—a move the company says will save about $65 million a year beginning in 2014—but none of the locations are in Louisiana. Kenton Girard—director of real estate assets and new store development for Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC—which shares the same address as SMBC...

O'Neal shopping center sells for $3.1 million

The roughly 100,000-square-foot shopping center at 1683 O'Neal Lane, just off Interstate 12, that's home to Hobby Lobby and Louisiana Furniture Outlet has been sold for $3.1 million. H & E Properties LLC, managed by Edward Rotenberg of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, on Friday closed on the deal to buy the building from Fenwood Associates, a New York limited partnership. Grey Mullins, who represented the buyer in the deal, says Hobby Lobby and Louisiana Furniture Outlet will each continue to lease about 50,000 square feet of space in the building, which housed a Walmart back in the 1980s and 1990s. Mullins says H & E Properties found the 8-acre site's location attractive. "It's a really well-located piece of rental property located directly adjacent to I-12," he says. "It should be a really good long-term piece of real estate." Charlie Colvin of Beau Box Real Estate represented the seller in the deal. He says the New York limited partnership was interested in disposing of...