Content tagged “Construction and property”

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

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

Several BR businesses file plans for remodeling projects

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

Mid City alliance disappointed with Circle K plans for Government site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kleinpeter brings in new managers as it continues addressing quality control

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

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

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

Level looking to purchase more lots in Rouzan, Engquist says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RDA member buys former Pizza Hut property near Ardendale project

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

MAPP part of joint venture tapped for LSU Taylor Hall construction

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

'Business Report': Can Tigerland be saved?

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

Commercial redevelopment planned next to downtown Raising Cane's

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

LSU-area condos purchased for $575K

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

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

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

Cook: Local brokers open new Sperry Van Ness firm

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

Livingston has first site certified as development ready through LED program

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

Right place, right time

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

This new house

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

The TOPS effect

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

Can Tigerland be saved?

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

First phase of River District moving toward fruition

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

Level buys 21 Rouzan lots for $1.43M

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

Apartment complexes in north BR sell for $3.6M

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

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

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

Andrews: Hurricane preparedness starts with planning

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

Capital Region home sales rise 2% in July

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

Clements puts 32 acres at River Park on the market

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

Time Out Lounge owners looking for new location

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

DSLD buys lots for Magnolia Lakes, Lake at Anselmo subdivisions

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

New planning director begins rewriting BR zoning code

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

Andrews: Changing down payment requirements are good, bad news

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

Mid City business owners plan area improvements

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

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

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

Metro Council to take up Time Out Lounge rezoning request Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

Cook: Louisiana Culinary Institute buys office warehouse

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

Transforming Mid City

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

Marsh Master buys site

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

Ardendale cleanup, property transfer approved by RDA

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

New Beauregard Town apartments in the works

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

Home builder buys land for new subdivision in Central

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

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

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

Demolition underway on vacant portion of Esplanade Mall

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

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 TCook@cookmoore.com.)

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 TCook@cookmoore.com.)

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...