The new owners of Rouzan have reached a tentative agreement to sell a 1.75-acre tract in the Traditional Neighborhood Development to the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System for a new 15,000-square-foot south branch library.
Plans for the proposed library, which still needs approval from the East Baton Rouge Library Board of Control, are being detailed tonight at a District 12 Community Meeting at St. Aloysius Church, hosted by councilmember Barbara Freiberg, who helped advocate for the new library site.
The proposed site for the new branch comes after years of searching and ends where it began—in Rouzan. The TND’s original developer, Tommy Spinosa, reached a deal with the library board in 2010 to donate land in Rouzan for a library. But the deal fell through in 2013 and the board has been on a quest for a suitable site ever since.
Earlier this year, a group of investors led by John Engquist and Charles Landry acquired all but five acres of the 117-acre Rouzan from Spinosa. Less than 45 days later, the library deal was hatched.
Landry says a library was not initially on the minds of the new owners. But almost immediately after acquiring the property they started hearing from library administrators and board members as well as council members and other civic leaders asking them to revisit the idea.
“Everyone asked us to consider it and we did,” Landry says.
The team’s design consultant, architect Steve Oubre, spent two weeks brainstorming the best location and design for the facility, coming up with a rendering library officials are thrilled with, Landry says. Still, the library board can still retain its own architects and come up with its own design.
The new arrangement is different from the 2010 deal with Spinosa in a couple of key respects. For one, the parcel on which the library will be built is not being donated to the library system but will be sold to it. The price has not yet been publicly disclosed.
Also, Spinosa’s plan called for locating the library in the heart of Rouzan. This plan places it on Glasgow Avenue at the intersection of Tupello Street, where Landry says it will be more easily accessible for the entire Southdowns community.
“This isn’t a Rouzan library,” he says. “It’s a Southdowns neighborhood library.”
The library board must still approve the deal at its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 15. The Planning Commission will also have to approve modifications to the Rouzan Concept Plan to allow for a civic building to be developed in space that is currently designated for mixed use.
Read Daily Report AM Wednesday for more details.