A rough year: Baton Rouge-area home sales plunged by nearly 23% in 2008, falling to their lowest level since 2001. According to figures from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, there were 7,341 homes sold last year in the region, compared with 9,508 sales in 2007. GBRAR President Sandy Daly blamed the sales drop on several factors, including the financial meltdown, which made it tougher for potential buyers to get a loan; national coverage of the housing crisis, which caused locals to think things were as bad in Baton Rouge as in hard-hit markets such as Las Vegas or Southern California; and Hurricane Gustav, which knocked out business for much of September.
Getting bigger: The mixed-use project planned for a section of Nicholson Drive between downtown and LSU continues to grow. According to real estate filings, Nicholson Estates, a partnership between Lafayette oilman Mike Moreno and White Sands Development Group of Leesburg, Fla., wrapped up three deals last month with a total value of $1.3 million. Plans are for the development to encompass about 20 acres. The project is expected to be a mix of residential, commercial and civic spaces.
Moving out: Kadair’s, the longtime camera and electronics retailer, is closing its Florida Boulevard location and consolidating most of its operations on Essen Lane. “The city has moved away from the Florida Boulevard area, and we’re just following the demographics,” owner Howard Kadair says. The store closed Friday, although the company will keep some nonretail operations, such as bookkeeping, at the site. Kadair says he hasn’t decided what will happen to the building that housed the Florida store.
Bringing services to the people: Construction will start in late spring or early summer on a 12,000-square-foot YMCA branch in the Howell Place development in north Baton Rouge. Richard Preis, who is developing Howell Place, donated a 2.8-acre tract along 72nd Avenue, near Howell Boulevard, to the YMCA of the Capital Area. The land is valued at $900,000. The Howell Place YMCA, which should open in August or September 2010, will cater to employees of the nearby ExxonMobil and Baton Rouge Coca-Cola plants, as well as Southern University and residents of Baker and Zachary.