How three downtown residential projects came together in 2020

Plans for the development of three new mixed-income residential developments in downtown east were among the few bright spots in 2020.

Altogether, the projects—Valencia Park, Lotus Village and Elysian III—will add much needed affordable housing stock while helping to redevelop a long-neglected area.

“We are witnessing a rebirth of new, mixed-income residential neighborhoods in the downtown east corridor, with Spanish Town Road serving as the major arterial spine,” says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer. “This is such good news for this area as we repopulate this inner city area.”

The 110-unit Valencia Park on Spanish Town Road and 14th Street is being developed by the Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corp., a subsidiary of Volunteers of America, and will comprise primarily affordable units.

Like the adjacent Elysian I and II, the 42-unit Elysian III at Canal Street and Spanish Town Road is being developed by the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and will have a mix of affordable and market-rate units.

Lotus Village on Spanish Town Road and 16th Street is a project of the Council on Aging in partnership with the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and will offer affordable rate units for seniors.

All three projects are made possible by federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which incentivize investors to partner with organizations to develop affordable housing in underserved neighborhoods.

Though Baton Rouge has a potentially worrisome oversupply of high-end and market-rate multifamily units, it lacks quality, affordable housing, experts say.

“When we talk about how many units we have in the market, we’re talking about market rate units,” says Wesley Moore, an appraiser with Cook, Moore, Davenport and Associates. “For the affordable segment, a lot of the housing stock is near the end of its functional life, so this can replace housing units that are now essentially functionally obsolete or deteriorated.”

It also provides a boost for an area like downtown east, which stretches from Spanish Town, east of Interstate 110, to Mid City. Though there has been some reinvestment in the area over the past several years, much of it remains blighted.

“These federal programs incentivize development in areas that need it,” Moore says. “This is something I’m a big fan of.”