Content tagged “Real estate”

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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.

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...

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...

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

'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.

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...

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.

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,...

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.

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.

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.

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...

State finds buyer for downtown's oldest 'skyscraper'

An arm of the BRAF will acquire the city's oldest "skyscraper"—the 12-story State Office Building at 150 N. Third St., which was built in 1926. The Louisiana Division of Administration, which announced last summer it was putting the property and dozens of others up for sale as a way of closing a budget shortfall, confirms 150 Third Street, a newly incorporated LLC, has submitted a high bid of $10,250,000 for the building. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website, 150 Third Street LLC was incorporated by Community Foundation Realty, which is one of several BRAF supporting organizations or foundations. It is unclear what plans are in the works for the art deco-era building, but local real estate experts say it has potential for redevelopment as a hotel or multifamily complex. In a prepared statement, BRAF President and CEO John Davies says: “In acquiring this building, we are very pleased to continue a partnership with the state of Louisiana on projects that...

Hit by slowing growth at home, Chinese investors shift billions to U.S. real estate

Chinese investors broke sales records in their drive to purchase U.S. commercial real estate in 2013, and analysts expect they will remain active in the global market, with untapped billions more to invest in coming years. As commercial real estate information company CoStar Group reports, the U.S. real estate market attracted $3.1 billion of capital from China last year—an increase of more than 900% from just $264 million invested in 2012, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. New York attracted the most money from China last year as Chinese investors shelled out $2.9 billion to buy property in the global capital, representing a massive increase over the 2012 investment level of $200 million. As Business Report detailed in a cover story from December, Eugene Ji is a Chinese-born entrepreneur, trade broker and real estate...

La. foreclosure rate fell to 1.7% to close 2013

Slightly more than 7,200 home foreclosures were completed throughout Louisiana last year, according to a year-end report released by CoreLogic this morning, which says the state's foreclosure rate fell 0.6 percentage points on the year to 1.7% at the close of 2013. That puts Louisiana among 36 states with a foreclosure rate below the national rate of 2.1% at the end of last year. Nationwide, the report says approximately 837,000 homes were in some stage of foreclosure at the end of 2013. That's about 31% fewer homes than the roughly 1.2 million in foreclosure at the end of 2012, when the national foreclosure rate was 3%. All 50 states posted a year-over-year foreclosure rate decline last year, the report says. "Clearly, 2013 was a transitional year for residential property in the United States. Higher home prices and lower shadow inventory levels, together with a slowly improving economy, are hopeful signals that we are turning a long-awaited corner," says CoreLogic President and CEO...

Andrews: Rent versus buy ... again

It was in a simple story in Bloomberg's BusinessWeek earlier this month titled "The Buy/Rent Balance Shifts" wherein it was announced that "For the first time since 2010, it was cheaper to rent a place to live in than to buy one," according to nationwide third-quarter figures compiled by Deutsche Bank. The term "cheaper" is illustrated in a chart that compares Average Rent to Average After-Tax Mortgage Payments with a high point of 120.7% in the first quarter of 2012 (rental payments were higher than mortgage payments by 20.7%, so it was cheaper to have a mortgage) versus 98.4% in the third quarter of 2013 (rental payments are lower now, so it is cheaper to rent than to own). So does this answer the question of whether is it currently better to lease than to purchase a home? My problem with simplistic analysis is that it leads to simplistic conclusions, which may not lead to smart decisions when it comes to whether someone should rent a home or purchase a home. The only real...

Cook: Sonic acquires site on Burbank

Oklahoma-based Sonic Drive-In has assembled a site at the southeast corner of Burbank and East Boyd drives—near the University View shopping center that's home to Mellow Mushroom, Izzo's Illegal Burrito and other restaurants—for the construction of a new fast food restaurant. The acquisition consisted of two separate purchases totaling $1,010,000 for 36,000 square feet, or just over $28 per square foot. Six single-family residences currently on site will be removed to make room for the drive-in restaurant. Sonic was represented by Kent Walker at Donnie Jarreau Real Estate, and the seller was represented by Tigue Bonneval with Beau Box Commercial Real Estate. "We will combine all six lots and revoke the private servitude that provides access to them. That will give us one clean corner site at a lighted intersection that will service the student population nearby," says Walker. This area has been positively impacted in recent months by the significant number of new...

New medical center to open next week in north B.R.

Champion Medical Center, a new specialized surgical hospital, is set to open on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7855 Howell Blvd., in the 25,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Greater Baton Rouge Surgical Hospital, which closed a little over a year ago. CEO Robert Cathey says the hospital will "focus on clinical excellence, elevated patient care, individualized nursing care, and custom meals." Partnering with local surgeons and medical staff, Champion will specialize in spine health, orthopedic and sports management, pain management, foot and ankle surgery, gastroenterology, and breast reconstruction. The hospital has about 12 medical staff currently, Cathey says, but the goal is to increase that number to 20 to 30. Overall, Champion expects to bring 50 new jobs to the Baton Rouge community. Champion is leasing the north Baton Rouge hospital space from Dallas-based Cambridge Healthcare Management, Inc. The facility includes 11 patient rooms—five of which are private and three of...

'Business Report': The 10 most expensive B.R. home sales in 2013

For real estate agents who specialize in top-dollar homes, 2013 was a good year, as Business Report details in its new cover story on Baton Rouge's 10 most expensive home sales of the year. But while the volume of sales in the upper-end segment of the market was strong, it wasn't off the charts. In fact, some brokers did fewer super-pricey deals last year than in the past. "It was absolutely my biggest year ever in terms of the sheer number of transactions," says Jerry del Rio. "But most of the action was below the $1 million mark. I find the highest end of the market slowing down a bit." Not everybody is seeing a slide. Quita Cutrer of Burns & Co. says she sold plenty of top-tier homes in 2013, and she ranks it as her second-best year ever. But she concedes the deals were more difficult to negotiate than in previous years, speculating that part of the reason is due to a perception that Baton Rouge is still a buyer's market—which is not exactly the case. As in previous...

Residents moving into first phase of Harveston

The first few residents have moved into the first filing of The Preserve at Harveston, John Fetzer and Mike Wampold's traditional neighborhood development straddling the Bluebonnet Extension at Nicholson Drive. Several other homes have been pre-sold in the 93-lot first filing and are nearing completion. Meanwhile, walls are going up at the clubhouse, red-rock nature trails are being laid, and finishing touches are being added to the pigeonniere that will mark the entrance to the development. The project illustrates that building a TND from the ground up isn't easy. How do you create a sense of place out of raw dirt before all the pieces are in place? Fetzer, who's overseeing the development of Harveston, concedes the hardest part is getting the first few homes off the ground and sold. Now that he has managed that, he expects activity to pick up quickly. "We have a lot of prospects right now and many more that are close to making a purchase," he says. Most of the activity is with...

Andrews: Know before you owe

In last week's column, I noted the recent appearance by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to spread the mission of this relatively new government organization. One of the CFPB's newest initiatives is called "Know Before You Owe," which seeks to better inform consumers about the finer points of their proposed mortgages, particularly those points which got borrowers into trouble during the credit crisis, through improved disclosures from the lenders. The CFPB says it had been been asked by Congress to "combine certain disclosures that consumers receive in connection with applying for and closing on a mortgage loan under the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X)." These two acts, commonly referred to as TILA and RESPA, had been enacted previously to...

Cook: Nicholson warehouse purchased for high-end furniture outlet

The owners of Monochrome Contemporary Furniture have purchased an 18,500-square-foot warehouse at 1010 Nicholson Drive—formerly home to St. Vincent de Paul—for $600,000 or about $32.50 per square foot. Monochrome, which bought the building from Brickyard Properties LLC, will renovate it for a new location. The business sells high-end contemporary furniture and currently occupies space in the Southdowns Shopping Center on Perkins Road. Ryan Greene and Walt Ketchings with NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial Real Estate brokered the transaction. According to Greene, Monochrome will renovate about half the building for their furniture and interior design store and lease the remaining space. "They hope to get a restaurant for a portion of it, and with the announcement of the Water Campus and all of the other proposed development on Nicholson Drive, this seemed to be a good place to retrofit some good quality retail," Greene says. The renderings of the project show a large front...

Its own four walls

The BR Walls Project, which has been working to put art in public spaces in downtown Baton Rouge for a few years now, is finally getting a permanent home.

Work meets play

Industrial construction executive Art Favre loves boating and fishing. When the founding president of Baton Rouge-based Performance Contractors bought his first sport fishing boat in 1993, he traveled up and down the Gulf Coast looking for a place to dock it permanently.

Perkins Rowe expected to benefit from new Stirling management deal

Not long after lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against Tommy Spinosa over Perkins Rowe, Jimmy Maurin—the now-retired, chairman emeritus of Covington-based Stirling Properties—was among those who met with the developer to discuss a possible buyout. Nothing ever came of it, and Maurin says those long-ago talks are unrelated to today's announcement that Stirling has been awarded a contract to take over leasing, sales, property and construction management services for the mixed-use development. Still, Maurin is excited about the possibilities for Stirling of running Perkins Rowe, which has proven to be a successful development—despite a four-year foreclosure battle that officially ended last August but remains plagued by several unresolved issues. “We have a very good ownership group … and they want to reposition Perkins Rowe after all these years of litigation and lender battles,” says Maurin. “This is the dawn of a new chapter and we...

Jury selection to begin in long-running suit between Little Village, former landlord

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit between restaurateur Wayne Stabiler and the owners of the downtown building that previously housed his popular Italian restaurant. CDR Properties sued The Little Village in late 2010, shortly after the restaurant moved out of the building at 453 Lafayette St. and relocated to the nearby Kress Building. According to court documents, Little Village caused "extreme damage … to the premises, including removing items which had been installed and were the property of CDR." Court records allege the extreme damage included “numerous gouges, scrapes and digs in the floors; removal of flooring … gouges, scrapes and holes all the way through the dry wall; removal of ceiling tiles throughout, removal of a walk-in refrigeration unit and removal of a service bar … without permission." The suit does not specify a motive, but Rob Miller, who owns the property, says it appears the alleged actions were "all...

Stonetrust Commercial buys Corporate Two building for $4.6 million

Stonetrust Commercial Insurance Co., which sells workers' compensation insurance to customers in five Southern states, has acquired the Corporate Two building at 5615 Corporate Blvd., where its offices are located. In a deal that closed Tuesday, Stonetrust acquired the 60,000-square-foot building for $4.6 million, or about $76 per square foot. This is the second time in less than three months that the property has changed hands. In late October, Songy HighRoads—an Atlanta-based real estate company with local ties—acquired the building and six others in a portfolio that sold for $52 million. Tab Neblett, a partner with Songy HighRoads, says it made sense to sell Corporate Two because "we had an attractive, unsolicited offer from a tenant and there is no way we could have kept that building without putting capital into it. So you weigh that against this offer and it was...

2013 Capital Region home sales rise 15%

A strong December—which saw Capital Region home sales rise 18.1% over the monthly tally in 2012—pushed 2013 total sales to the highest mark since 2004, excluding the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina. At 8,609, the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors reports total sales in the Capital Region last year were 15% higher than the 7,483 sales in 2012. Sales in 2012 were 15% higher than the 2011 total and the highest since the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the local market was overwhelmed with evacuees and sales soared like never before. In 2005, Capital Region home sales topped 11,300. The 2013 figures nearly topped those of 2004—the last full year before Katrina began skewing figures—when 8,759 sales were recorded. Other key figures were also better in 2013 compared to 2012. The average home stayed on the market 86 days last year, compared to 97 days in 2012. The average sales price, meanwhile, rose 3.4% to...

Owner of The Cove, Port Royal plans new Belgian-style beer bar at CitiPlace

The owner of Baton Rouge bars The Cove and Port Royal is planning to open a new bar called Hofbrauhaus Rouge in CitiPlace Court, according to a concept plan recently submitted to the Planning Commission. "This is to be a craft beer establishment specializing in an extensive line of craft beers, both domestic and imported," reads the concept plan. Numerous attempts to contact owner Tom Ange were unsuccessful, but Charlie Colvin at Beau Box Real Estate—who represents CitiPlace Court—confirms Ange has leased adjacent suites in the center for the new venture. The new bar will encompass about 5,570 square feet of space in the center, and will be located just three retail spaces away from The Cove. The concept plan says both of the recently leased suites—one of which formerly housed The Panhandler—will be renovated and converted into Hofbrauhaus Rouge. "The establishment will feature beer only, and will be a non-smoking establishment without liquor; and, not a...

Andrews: Cordray TV appearance shows how we can educate youth on financial matters

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray was the featured guest recently on the often irreverent late night news parody program, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart's typical guests include actors plugging their movies, authors plugging their books and politicians plugging, well, themselves. So it was a bit curious for me to see Cordray on this show, which is known for a young audience in search of entertainment rather than for serious news, particularly when Cordray's focus was to "champion meaningful regulation for the financial industry." (His complete interview can be viewed here). This was not a topic that I would have expected for the show, but I was absolutely delighted to see it. The LSU semester begins this week, and I am thrilled to be able to begin the process of financial education for 150 finance students with...

Cook: California hedge fund buys B.R. apartment complex for $1.2 million

A California hedge fund known as Newport Holdings LCC has acquired the 94-unit apartment complex known as Newport Villas—located at 1737 La Annie Drive, just north of Florida Boulevard near Belaire High School—from Black Warrior Holdings LLC, which had only recently acquired it from the bank for nonpayment. The purchase price was $1.2 million, or about $12,765 per apartment. According to CJ Johnson with 3Chix Realty, who brokered the transaction and represented both the buyer and seller, the property was 90% occupied at the time of sale. "Black Warrior had done some rehabilitation prior to the sale. There were some capital outlays that were required like redoing sewer service and fixing the parking, but the units were in fairly good condition," says Johnson. The property was originally listed for $1.8 million, and Johnson says within 30 days of it hitting the market she had a contract in place with the California hedge fund and three back up offers from other interested...

City-parish to launch new mapping website with neighborhood data

City-parish officials are set to announce Wednesday the launch of a new website called City Key, an asset mapping tool that will contain hundreds of data sheets with a wide range of data on each neighborhood in East Baton Rouge Parish. A part of Mayor Kip Holden's Healthy City Initiative, the website will have information ranging from "the locations of libraries and bus stops, to demographic information like neighborhood educational levels and crime rates," according to a press release issued by the city-parish today. "The website will also provide a forum for community discussion and publicity for community events," reads the release. "The website will not only provide a fantastic tool for community organizations and government agencies to let data drive their programming, but also will encourage community interaction and communication to drive change in Baton Rouge neighborhoods." The Mayor's Healthy City Initiative is funding the site in partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue...

Andrews: A look at rate indexes as 2014 opens

As the fourth quarter of 2013 ended we found ourselves with some interest rate indexes unchanged from previous quarters, and some up in a fairly major way. First to the unchanged rates, including the Prime Rate, which has been at 3.25% since Dec. 16, 2008. Yep, the rate has remained the same over five years, while the Federal Reserve continues its position of accommodation in making borrowing affordable. At the other end of the rate indexes is the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which touched 3% for a moment recently, up from 1.72% at the end of 2012. Mortgage rates are also on the rise, with Bankrate.com reporting that they finished 2013 more than a full percentage point higher than where they began. The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate began the year at 3.58% and finished at 4.69%. Depending on how the economy fairs in 2014, some economists are predicting further increases in rates with the 10-year U.S. Treasury projected at 3.35% or higher by the end of the year if the Federal...

Cook: Geaux Clean purchases Siegen Lane site for car wash

I can't tell you how happy I am that 2013 is over, because a lot did not go well for me last year. But 2014 is heating up, and if the beginning of the year is any indication what the rest of it will be like, I am excited. LSU and the Saints are winning and Alabama is losing. All is right with world. The local real estate market appears to be showing some signs of continued recovery, too, with more activity taking place in almost all segments of the market. A recent sale of note is that of a Siegen Lane site to Geaux Clean Express Car Wash, which closed on Dec. 30 for just under $702,400, or about $14.50 per square foot for the roughly 1.1-acre site. The property is situated on the east side of Siegen Lane, just south of Cloverland Avenue. "The sale price at $14.50 per square foot was an excellent deal," says Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who brokered the transaction. "Another site across Siegen Lane from this property is under contract for $25.00 per square...

Demand growing in industrial market

The industrial boom in the Capital Region has prompted Standard Alloys to stake out a location in Baton Rouge.

'Business Report': Is La. housing market prepared for influx of workers?

In Williston, N.D., a prairie town that has seen its population jump from 1,500 to nearly 8,000 in just a few years due to a rise in oil and gas exploration, workers have struggled to find a place to call home. Some are living in hotels, others in "camps" made out of shipping containers. Many of the migrants find apartments, and some have moved into single-family homes built since the boom. Employment is expected to continue to rise through at least 2020 and possibly for the next two decades, making long-term, permanent housing there even more of a necessity in the future. As Business Report details in a story from the current issue, a similar scenario looms in south Louisiana as a result of new manufacturing facilities and plant expansions on the horizon. Projects totaling more than $60 billion are expected to require upwards of 64,000 workers through 2016 in the state—35,000 of those filling new jobs. The Craft Workforce Development Task Force—created in...

'Real Estate Weekly': Developer of speculative office park on Coursey sells first two buildings

The recent sale of a pair of 3,000-square-foot office buildings in Market Plaza Office Park—located just off Coursey Boulevard between Airline Highway and South Sherwood Forest Boulevard—is a signal that speculative projects in the Baton Rouge market are once again viable, says Chris Pike of Mike Falgoust and Associates. "The thing about this park is not just that there are leases being signed and buildings being sold. You have a developer that's building these 100% speculatively, which is something we haven't seen in about six years," says Pike. Real Estate Weekly reports that Pike recently brokered the sale of the two offices for a total of $675,000. The bank and developer behind the office park are Investar Bank and Destiny Interests LLC, respectively. In addition to the first two office buildings that were sold last month to Coursey Condos LLC—a cash-flow investor that Pike represents—Destiny Interests is building a 3,500-square-foot office building...

'Real Estate Weekly' to become part of Tuesday 'Daily Report'

Business Report executive editor David Dodson announced today that beginning in the new year, the content of the Real Estate Weekly e-newsletter will become part of the publication's Daily Report online news service and featured every Tuesday at 3:30 PM. Previously, the two e-newsletters remained separate in the desktop versions, but the new mobile platforms (smartphone and iPad), launched in October, had already combined the Real Estate Weekly news with Daily Report stories. "Loyal readers of Real Estate Weekly will still get the full menu of important real estate developments each week, only now as part of Daily Report PM on Tuesday afternoons," says Dodson. "And of course, we will continue to have popular columnists Tom Cook and Brian Andrews sharing their news and insights. Now they'll reach an even wider audience." Dodson added that while most readers of Real Estate Weekly are already subscribers to Daily Report,...

Real estate recap: Wampold buys land in Perkins Rowe from Terry Saban ... Walk-On's to open Towne Center restaurant ... KeyBank no longer involved in Perkins Rowe; sale could come soon

Done deal: Nick Saban's wife, Terry, has sold a 1.8-acre tract she owned at Perkins Rowe to developer Mike Wampold, who says the parcel is ideal for a hotel or additional retail development. "This parcel is right up front, between Orvis and The NeuroMedical Center on Park Rowe," Wampold tells Daily Report. "It's the first thing you come to, so whatever we put there, the location is triple A." Wampold acquired the parcel for $1.1 million in a deal that closed Thursday. Read the full story.

Andrews: A look at new debt-to-income restrictions taking effect in 2014

As part of the new rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, which go into effect Jan. 1, lenders intending to make a Qualified Mortgage will have to deal with new regulations concerning how much of a borrower's income can go toward total debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "QMs will generally require that the borrower's monthly debt, including the mortgage, isn't more than 43% of the borrower's monthly pre-tax income." The goal is to assist consumers in avoiding taking on too much debt when they buy a house or refinance a mortgage. While the overall intent of the rules sounds great, some industry professionals are concerned with the unintended negative consequences to certain borrowers. Kenny Hodges, managing partner of Assurance Financial, a mortgage banker specializing in residential home loans, says that many lower-income borrowers who live within their means commonly hit or exceed that threshold, and the new rules could force these borrowers to go to lenders...

Cook: Pinnacle Warehousing purchases Airline Highway site for $1.8M

Pinnacle Warehousing LLC has purchased a site comprising about 7.75 developable acres on Airline Highway, adjoining Bayou Manchac, from Airline-Manchac LLC for $1.8 million, or about $5.40 per square foot. Brent Garrett with Beau Box Commercial Real Estate, who brokered the transaction, says the property is part of a planned unit development whose developers recently sold a 12-acre site to Area Tire Distributers, which is building a 125,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility on-site. This purchase by Pinnacle will allow for an additional 80,000 square feet of space to be developed along the Airline Highway frontage. According to Garrett, Pinnacle has a build-to-suit contract for a portion of the potential 80,000 square feet but does not yet want to reveal who the tenant will be. Construction on the new warehouse distribution facility should begin early next year.

Maison Victoria on Perkins Road closing after 15 years

Maison Victoria, a French and British colonial antique shop on Perkins Road near Siegen Lane, will be closing March 16 after 15 years of doing business, says Norm Weizer, the liquidator. The owners, Susan and David Basu, are retiring and selling all merchandise and assets. The couple operates Maison Victoria out of the 20,000-square-foot space in the shopping center next to St. George Fire Department Station 61. The space consists of a 7,000-square-foot, two-story store in the front and a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in the back, both of which the Basus lease. A new tenant is lined up to succeed Maison Victoria in the space, says Susan Basu, but she was not at liberty to release the tenant's name. —Rachel Alexander

Developer of speculative office park on Coursey sells first two buildings, plans more

The recent sale of a pair of 3,000-square-foot office buildings in Market Plaza Office Park—located just off Coursey Boulevard, between Airline Highway and South Sherwood Forest Boulevard—is a signal that speculative projects in the Baton Rouge market are once again viable, says Chris Pike of Mike Falgoust and Associates. "The thing about this park is not just that there are leases being signed and buildings being sold. You have a developer that's building these 100% speculatively, which is something we haven't seen in about six years," say Pike, who recently brokered the sale of the two offices, which collectively sold for $675,000. The bank and developer behind the office park are Investar Bank and Destiny Interests LLC, respectively. In addition to the sale of the first two office buildings last month to Coursey Condos LLC—a cash-flow investor that Pike represents—Destiny Interests is building a 3,500-square-foot office building in the park; that third...

Wampold buys land in Perkins Rowe from Terry Saban

Nick Saban's wife, Terry, has sold a 1.8-acre tract she owned at Perkins Rowe to developer Mike Wampold, who says the parcel is ideal for a hotel or additional retail development. "This parcel is right up front, between Orvis and The NeuroMedical Center on Park Rowe," Wampold says. "It's the first thing you come to so whatever we put there, the location is triple A." Wampold acquired the parcel for $1.1 million in a deal that closed Thursday. He has been eyeing the site for months and says he was particularly interested in it because it is the last undeveloped parcel in the mixed-use development, with the exception of a tract in the rear that is slated for apartments. While developing a hotel on the site might seem like a no-brainer, Wampold says he has to consider the competition it might bring to his nearby Renaissance hotel across Bluebonnet Boulevard. "I don't want to create competition for myself," he says. "Though that hotel was one reason I was interested in this...

Money to lend

It was big news earlier this fall, when a portfolio of seven office buildings, including six in Baton Rouge, sold to a group of investors with local ties.

Living in the industrial boom

In Williston, N.D., a prairie town that has seen its population jump from 1,500 to nearly 8,000 in just a few years due to a rise in oil and gas exploration, workers have struggled to find a place to call home.

The Level playing field

Most people know John Engquist as CEO of H&E, the integrated equipment dealership founded by his father in 1961. Under the younger Engquist's leadership, H&E grew into a public company with nearly 70 locations and more than $837 million in annual revenues.

U.S. housing outlook for 2014: steadier, sturdier

The strength of the U.S. housing recovery was a welcome surprise this year, and if forecasters are correct, The Wall Street Journal reports, the sector is finally ready to start picking up the rest of the economy in 2014. That's because the market is changing in important ways. Experts like Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real-estate website Trulia, predict the mix of buyers in the coming year will shift to a combination of families moving up or buying their first homes, rather than the cash-only investors who have been driving sales in many cities. Mortgage rates, which declined to historically low levels earlier this year, should continue to tick up. The Federal Reserve said last week that it would start pulling back on a bond-buying program that has helped keep a lid on long-term rates. And home supply and demand are finally in a balance that should encourage building. Add it all up and it means a market that's less confusing than it was over the past few years, when...

Cook: Jeffrey Drive office warehouse sells for classic automotive business

There continues to be increased activity across the Capital Region in the industrial market. Mathew Laborde of Beau Box Commercial Real Estate recently represented the succession of K. Byung Yoon in the sale of a 9,560-square-foot building at 4440 Jeffrey Dr., off Airline Highway, for $300,000. There were several offers to purchase the property, and it sold for the asking price—which works out to about $30 per square foot. The purchaser was DLK Real Estate LLC, represented by Durwood L. Keller. Keller's agent was David Trusty of Gully, Phelps & McKey Commercial Real Estate. The property consists of two metal buildings—one of them the former home of Ki Yoon Tae Kwon Do Academy—on a 20,000-square-foot site. The new owner intends to use the property for a classic automotive business after some renovations are completed.

Target plans $1.2 million renovation at Siegen store

The Target store on Siegen Lane is set to get a facelift, according to a plan review application approved by the city-parish Department of Public Works earlier this month. A $1.2 million renovation is planned for approximately 21,000 square feet of the store—which measures just shy of 198,000 square feet total—including an updated coffee area, mercantile sales floor, grocery sales area and back of the house areas. The food service area will remain unaffected, and no square footage will be added, the application says. RSP Architects, a Minneapolis-based firm—which is where Target's corporate headquarters are also located—is listed as the architect for the project. Target officials reached by Real Estate Weekly were unable to provide details on the timeline of the renovation at the store, which is located at 6885 Siegen Lane, just off Interstate 12. —Staff report

Real estate recap: Capital Region home sales up 3.6% in November … Couple looks to turn 'old McMahon House' into downtown apartments … Vivid Ink buys long-vacant Circuit City building for $1 million

On solid ground: Home sales in the eight-parish Capital Region were up 3.6% in November compared to the same month last year, according to the latest monthly sales report from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. While the entire region tallied 20 more homes sold during November—for a total of 577—East Baton Rouge Parish recorded 52 fewer sales, or a decline of 15.2%. A total of 291 homes were sold in the parish last month. Livingston and Ascension parishes performed much better. Daily Report has the full story.

Andrews: Qualified Mortgage rules prohibit 'toxic' loan features

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has clarified certain parts of the new Qualified Mortgage rules and is making sure the market doesn't have any more of the "toxic loan features" that led many consumers and lenders to financial ruin during the credit crisis. According to the CFPB website, QMs cannot have the following loan features:
• An "interest-only" period, when a consumer pays only the interest without paying down the principal.
• "Negative amortization," when the loan principal increases over time rather than decreases, even though the borrower is making payments.
• "Balloon payments," which are larger-than-usual payments at the end of the loan term. Under the new rules, balloon payments are allowed in certain circumstances.
• Loan terms that are longer than 30 years.

St. George plans for the future with new church, early learning center

As it celebrates its past and marks its 105th anniversary as a parish, St. George Catholic Church is also looking to its future. A new, more visible church is planned on the corner of Siegen Lane and Kinglet Drive near Interstate 10, as well as a transformation of the current church into the Early Childhood Center for pre-kindergarten students, says Martin Hernandez, director of administration for the church parish. Together, the parish expects to invest upwards of $13 million on the projects. "We're trying to be on the cutting edge in two aspects here," says Hernandez. "We anticipate at some point in the future that schools will all be starting at Pre-K instead of Kindergarten. And secondly, we want to be prepared for a potential priest shortage" by being able to accommodate more parishioners in a single service. Plans for the new church, drawn up by Grace & Hebert Architects, depict a 24,000-square-foot church that will accommodate 1,200 people—quite an expansion from the...

Redevelopment of Mid City Entergy site expected to benefit other projects in corridor

Today's donation by Entergy of a long-blighted six-acre site on Government Street to the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is not only good news for the RDA but for others trying to redevelop the Government Street corridor between downtown and Mid City. "This is wonderful for Mid City and for Government Street," says attorney and developer Danny McGlynn, who is working on two separate projects about a mile down Government Street from the Entergy site. "That is a large piece of real estate, an interesting piece of real estate … and it couldn't have fallen into better hands." McGlynn says the renovation of the site will help create synergy for other projects in the area, like his planned expansion of Circa 1857 and his Model Block rehab. The Circa deal is still awaiting $10 million in New Market Tax Credits, which did not materialize as hoped earlier this year because the RDA did not receive them. McGlynn believes he will get the needed tax credits in 2014 and can move...

Entergy site provides 'monumental, catalytic opportunity' for RDA, Monsour says

It was an energetic morning at the Redevelopment Authority's downtown office, and not just because President Walter Monsour was celebrating a birthday. The RDA Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve Entergy Gulf States Louisiana's donation of its 6-acre property at 1509 Government Street, appraised at $1.75 million. "The Entergy site provides a monumental, catalytic opportunity" for Mid-City revitalization, Monsour says. Bordered by North Boulevard, 22nd Street, Government Street, and I-10, the property consists of a 4.4-acre parcel that contains ten buildings and a 1.6-acre parcel that contains one building. Monsour identified the property's vast potential as both the focal point of the Mid-City "warehouse design district" and the gateway to downtown, as well as the possible future site of a railway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The RDA Board of Commissioners also at its morning meeting approved the RDA's acceptance of a $200,000 grant from the Louisiana...