Downtown Baton Rouge to get more residential housing in 2018

After landing several hotel and apartment developments and a crop of new restaurants in recent years, downtown is continuing the trend in 2018, when it is expected to add at least 200 residential units and welcome the Courtyard Marriott.

Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, says one of the biggest keys to next year will be the continued addition residential units.

“Two hundred additional units in the central business district, that‘s a big deal,” Rhorer says. “That’s like a whole new neighborhood.”

The Lofts @6C, a 142-unit apartment complex in the middle of downtown, is set to be completed next summer. Courtyard Marriott, along with a Starbucks on the first floor, should be finished by the spring, along with The Elias, a 25-unit upscale apartment complex.

What downtown has struggled to attract during its renaissance is traditional retailers, though Rhorer says “it’s coming.” The DDD’s expanded boundaries this year will mean a focus on bringing industrial companies to the north end of downtown, service industry and retail on the east side and developments surrounding the Water Campus to the south in 2018.

“My concentration has been on getting the base, the residential and the hotels,” Rhorer says.

Another trend to watch will be the office market, which Rhorer says is “coming back.”

Carmen Austin, a commercial broker with Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, says the downtown office market has been softer than the rest of the city, due in part to a larger economic downturn in Louisiana with the collapse of oil prices.

“The downtown market is pretty soft right now because of all the new competing office buildings like IBM and the Water Campus,” Austin says.

The new apartments and hotel are on top of several upgrades to public areas like North Boulevard, River Road and City Hall Plaza, as well as a $15 million downtown library that has been heralded as state-of-the-art and a catalyst for the area. Spencer Calahan says his $11 million office—which will include a helipad—could be done by next December, and more Water Campus buildings are slated to open next year. If it moves forward, Desoto Park, a series of pedestrian and bicycle trails next to the river, could open next year as well.

Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp says the chamber’s new headquarters, a $3.5 million renovation to its existing offices, should be completed by next summer.

And Brad Watts announced today that new venues are coming to Third Street: A new restaurant, bar and grill and event space will take up the building formerly home to Restaurant IPO and Draft House. Those will open in the coming months.

Read Business Report’s October cover story on downtown living.

—Sam Karlin

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