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Rouzan releases new renderings of rec and community center, while developer continues search for commercial tenants

Developer Tommy Spinosa has released new site plans and renderings of the Rouzan Recreation and Community Center planned for his traditional neighborhood development and hopes to break ground on the project this fall. The facility will include a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse and gym with a pool/cabana area. It will be located in the center of the residential portion of the development on Rouzan Avenue across from Grand Park.

The plans come as residential construction at the TND continues to boom. Construction is currently underway on 206 residential lots that are scheduled to be completed this fall. Pre-sales are also underway and 96 lots have been pre-sold. Level Homes has been developing the residential lots in Rouzan since the fall of 2014.

Development of Rouzan’s commercial portion, however, is proceeding more slowly. It has been three months since plans for an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater at the Rouzan Village Center fell through, and so far Spinosa doesn’t have a replacement lined up for what would have been his anchor tenant.

In March, the franchise group that was going to develop the theater cancelled the lease it had originally signed with Spinosa in the fall of 2014. Reached by phone last month, the owner of the franchisee group, Anthony Coco, declined to comment on Rouzan or on the Baton Rouge market.

Since the Alamo Drafthouse deal fell through, Spinosa says he’s had plenty of interest in leasing space in Rouzan but finding the right tenant for the development and the neighborhood is challenging. Many interested national and regional tenants view Baton Rouge as a “suburban market” and therefore want a freestanding building with dedicated parking, as opposed to a smaller storefront more in keeping with an infill development.

“The Rouzan vision is retail services within walking distance, which fits with smart growth planning and is shown to boost retail sales when done properly,” Spinosa says in a written statement. “We can’t have a restaurant take three acres for an ocean of parking that is only full at lunch and dinner; that’s poor utilization.”

While nothing specific has been lined up yet, several proposals are in the works for a first phase of inline retail at Rouzan.

“We are working toward a healthy mix of both viewpoints in a way that creates a destination location for locals to be proud of and truly enjoy,” Spinosa says.

—Stephanie Riegel

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