Investor Anthony Kimble plans to redevelop the former Pearl Brewery property on Julia Street into a multifamily complex with 12 to 14 units.
The project is part of a larger plan by Kimble to revitalize the historic Eddie Robinson Sr. neighborhood in Downtown East.
“I’m from Baton Rouge and went to middle school in that area,” says Kimble. “It’s a traditionally black neighborhood that’s been disinvested over the past 30 years. I wanted to come in and be part of a bigger plan to revitalize the area, and give amenities and accessibility to downtown and other areas.”
Kimble aims to start construction on the multifamily project in the fourth quarter of this year.
He acquired the property in a deal that also included the former Valley House Hotel property on Government Street, across the railroad tracks from Electric Depot, as well as the lot next door to the former hotel. While the sales price was recorded as $10 “and other good and valuable considerations,” Kimble says the deal was part of $2 million worth of transactions closed over the course of a week.
His plans for the former hotel property are still being worked out, but he hopes to start construction on it in mid-2021 and plans to lease the warehouse on the back of the property until construction begins.
“What’s big for us is working through stakeholders to see what will create value for that area,” he says.
Also investing in the project is Jullien Gordon, a multifamily developer behind the #MultfamilyMovement on Instagram, who told followers on social media that he was looking for a new mid-sized market, and that’s why he’s now in Baton Rouge.
“We haven’t seen grassroots black economic development focused on one neighborhood like this since Tulsa, (Oklahoma;) Allensworth, (California;) and Rosewood, (Florida),” Gordon told his more than 30,000 followers online earlier this week.
According to the Downtown Development District, the Valley House was a predominantly African American hotel at the turn of the 20th century. The two-story, 27,500-square-foot building sits on nearly 1.4 acres. The building was identified by DDD in 2017 as a potential historic development site.
“The big goal is to provide housing people can be proud of and proud to live in,” Kimble says. “It’s not just about rebuilding a couple buildings, it’s part of a master plan of what happens in this neighborhood. … I have a goal to do at least $15 million worth of work over the next two to three years in the Mid City area.”