Valencia Park developers grapple with parking requirements

    After several delays, the developers of a 122-unit apartment complex planned for families and veterans in Spanish Town will ask the Planning Commission for additional time to tweak their plans to meet parking requirements.

    Construction on the three-story Valencia Park complex was slated to begin early this year on a 2.6-acre city block across from Spanish Town Park on North 13th Street, with completion expected early next year. But Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation’s request to have the property rezoned as a Small Planned Unit Development has been deferred several times as they tried to add parking spaces required by the Unified Development Code. Now, they plan to ask the request to be deferred until October, says Vanessa Levine, RNDC development director, as they continue to work with architects and civil engineers.

    RNDC considered adding a fourth floor to reduce the building’s footprint for parking, but Levine says the company prefers to keep the building three stories to align it with the neighborhood.

    Until October, the RNDC—a subsidiary of Volunteers for America Southeast Louisiana—will move forward with contract negotiations and permitting. If approved by the Planning Commission in October, Levine hopes construction will start by November, adding it will take about 14 months to complete.

    Levine says RNDC is now hoping for an early 2021 opening of the complex, which will consist of 62 one-bedroom units, 54 two-bedroom apartments and six three-bedroom units.

    Eighty percent of the units will be rent restricted through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, while the remaining units will be available at market rate. Half of the units are designated for exclusive leasing to veterans.

    Levine estimates the project will cost $22 million, paid for by grants, low-income tax credit equity and a loan.

    “We’ve been interested in the Baton Rouge market for some time as there’s been evidence of a demand for workforce housing, affordable rents,” Levine says, “and this particular area is appealing because it is proximate to employment and services downtown. It’s centrally located and close to bus services.”

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