Riegel: A new way to redevelop north Baton Rouge?

    Can you redevelop north Baton Rouge one house at a time? Armed with an ambitious business model, a little cash, a background in construction and a lot of heart, local real estate investor Tommy Campbell is trying.

    As Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel writes in her new column, Campbell’s plan involves buying blighted, abandoned houses cheap—like $10,000 cheap—then fixing them up and selling, not renting, them to first-time homebuyers.

    Campbell paid just $8,500 for the first, 870-square-foot house, which has two bedrooms, one bath, a small back porch and spacious yard. He spent nearly $40,000 renovating it from top to bottom—installing new plumbing, wiring, sheetrock, flooring, plus cabinetry, countertops and brand-name appliances. He even threw in a portable, wireless burglar alarm.

    His asking price: $65,000.

    He bought the house next door for $10,000. At 970 square feet, it’s larger, with three bedrooms, one bath and a small garage. Campbell spent $50,000 fixing it up and is now listing it for $80,000.

    So what now? Campbell is hoping to attract buyers from the low- and moderate-income segment of the population, the working poor. Technically, in federal HUD terms, that would be people who earn no more than 80% of the area’s average median income, or about $59,800. In a dual-income family.

    Most people in this segment of the population rent because they cannot afford to own or, more importantly, do not think they can afford to own. Campbell is hoping to show them that they can.

    Read the full column. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com

    View Comments