Royal Palms apartments on Airline Highway to open next year

    Construction of a new apartment complex being developed off Airline Highway, across from Costco, is expected to wrap early next year, according to developer Darren Aschaffenburg.

    Work on the 130-unit Royal Palms began late last year on a former hotel site, with the $10 million project being financed by Home Bank. Bill Cress is the architect and Loupe Contractors is the contractor.

    Through DKA Eleven LLC, Aschaffenburg bought the property in early 2018 for $1.3 million with plans to develop the market-rate apartment complex. Rent rates would start at $1.10 to $1.15 per square foot. The Dallas-based developer secured planning commission approval for the project in April 2018.

    Baton Rouge’s multifamily market is grappling with higher vacancy rates and absorbing the surge of new apartments coming online. Parishwide vacancy rates are 9.34%—with the student “class A” market averaging a 19% vacancy rate. Roughly 2,400 units are proposed for construction in 2020 and 2021. But Aschaffenburg isn’t worried about the rising rates, saying the apartments are geared to satisfying a niche between low income and luxury.

    Aschaffenburg says he likes developing projects in capital cities, like Baton Rouge, because they are more isolated from downturns, with the state university, government services and hospitals keeping the economy stable.

    The apartments aren’t his first project in the area. In 2006, he purchased and razed the old Plantation Inn Hotel, at the corner of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Airline Highway, developing the 40,000-square-foot Bluebonnet Square Shopping Center, completed in 2009.

    “That sub-market is now one of the hottest in all of Baton Rouge,” Aschaffenburg says. “People are realizing that it sits at the demographic center of the city where three major arteries converge (Airline, I-12, Bluebonnet/Coursey). I am confident the area will continue to improve and prosper.”

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