News alert: Team led by John Engquist buys Rouzan

    A team led by businessman and real estate developer John Engquist has acquired Rouzan, the 100-acre traditional neighborhood development in Southdowns, from developer Tommy Spinosa and plans to resume work on the long-stalled project as soon as Monday.

    In a complex series of transactions that closed earlier today, Engquist and his partners in the deal—attorney Charles Landry and builders Todd Waguespack and Ryan Engquist—not only purchased the undeveloped residential and commercial land in the TND, they also acquired all of Spinosa’s debt in the development, which had been financed by the First National Bank of Commerce.

    FNBC went belly up last year and was shut down by federal regulators.

    “If the bank hadn’t failed and had continued to fund Tommy, he would’ve gotten this thing developed,” says Engquist, CEO of H&E Equipment Services and developer of Americana in Zachary and Adelia at Old Goodwood. “But when the bank failed it shut everything down.”

    Engquist and Landry decline to say what they paid for the debt, but the acquisition of the residential portion of Rouzan was $21 million.

    The total package was “a lot more than that,” Landry says.

    Two separate entities will own the residential and commercial portions of the development, and Spinosa will remain an investor in the commercial portion, which has yet to be developed.

    “But the important thing is that John is the sole manager of both,” Landry says.

    Engquist and Landry says there’s lot of work to do at Rouzan, which currently has about 75 completed residential home sites, and they intend on Monday to start cleaning up the worksite. Also on the to do list for the immediate future is to build a clubhouse, pool, walking trails, a dog park and other amenities that were promised residents when they bought in.

    Engquist also plans to develop an office building on the corner of Perkins Road and Glasgow Avenue, where Spinosa’s construction trailers have sat for several years.

    As for Rouzan’s much-discussed and long-awaited commercial development, Engquist says he has no specific plans but isn’t worried about difficulty attracting retail tenants.

    “Any development like that likes a grocery store, that is a key component, and we’ll have restaurants and certain retail components,” he says. “It’s a very, very special piece of property—that location, 100 acres in the heart of Baton Rouge.”

    —Stephanie Riegel