Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Wed, July 30, 2014

Seven years in the making, Perkins Rowe rooftop pool finally set to open

Nearly seven years after Pekins Rowe's first tenants moved into the mixed-use development, the rooftop pool atop the condominium tower will finally open. Earlier this month, a new aluminum pool was lifted by crane to the fourth-floor pool deck and installed inside the original pool, which never opened because of a leak. Construction is currently being completed on the pool area, which is only available for use to condo owners, and the pool is scheduled to open the first week of September, says Donna Taylor, a spokeswoman with property management firm Stirling Properties. Completion of the rooftop pool—one of many issues that has plagued Perkins Rowe over the years—is one of several positive steps Stirling has taken to bring Perkins Rowe to the next level. The Covington-based firm was hired to manage the development early this year, after a new investor group bought the property. Stirling has also increased average occupancy in the 111 apartment units from 89% to 95%, Taylor says, and has begun construction on nearly 100 new units in the rear of the property. It plans to complete them and have them available for lease by the end of the year. On the retail side, the firm recently leased a 1,500-square-foot space to a new tenant—trendy boutique Impeccable Pig—and is working to diversify Perkins Rowe's overall tenant mix. "We don't want it to be the mall, where you can go and buy whatever everybody else has. We want to be unique, so we are being cautious," says Taylor. "But we are working on diversification. We'd love to have a children's store, a shoe store, men's store, and lingerie." —Stephanie Riegel Read the full story here.

Miles laments loss of juniors, expresses confidence in Tigers heading into season

LSU head football coach Les Miles acknowledges that the team's 2014 version is younger than most other teams in the SEC, but he says its members will be ready and able to compete at the highest level of college football when the season kicks off on Aug. 30. "You'd kind of like to not lead college football" in the number of juniors skipping their senior year of eligibility to play pro ball, Miles said at today's luncheon of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, but you live with it. "I recognize this is a youthful team, but there is some insistence that the culture we have created will continue. And that means team in front of self," he said. After expressing confidence in every aspect of his offense and defense, as well as outlining the strengths of specific players, Miles was asked whether he would consider playing two quarterbacks. "I'm thinking about it," Miles said, adding jokingly: "The problem is, there's just one ball. It makes my head hurt trying to figure out who would snap to whom." Miles began today by saying his now-traditional pre-season address to Rotary is "my favorite one of the year ... because it's the last" before the season opens. Miles declined to reveal who will be wearing the coveted No. 18 jersey—which the team annually votes to give to a leading teammate—and he did not offer a prediction of where the Tigers will end up in the SEC. Earlier this year, media members at SEC Media Days picked LSU to finish third in the SEC West division, behind Alabama and Auburn. —David Dodson

Roofing supplies distributor opens first BR location

Dallas-based Roofing Supply Group, a wholesale distributor of roofing supplies and related materials with approximately 73 locations nationwide, has opened its first Baton Rouge branch, says Jeff Clay, vice president of strategic planning and corporate development at RSG. "We've serviced customers in Baton Rouge historically, but always out of New Orleans," Clay says, adding that the New Orleans location has been open for about 10 to 15 years. "We've got a big enough customer base that we felt like it made sense to go to Baton Rouge, so for the past 12 to 18 months we've had our eye on an expansion there." The roofing supplies company is leasing approximately 40,000 square feet of warehouse space and three acres of yard space at 7635 S. Choctaw Drive, Clay says. The warehouse, previously owned by Reads-Perkins Moving Systems, sold for $1.6 million earlier this year to a third-party investor. Monday's opening of the South Choctaw Drive location marks RSG's fourth branch in Louisiana, where the company also has a presence in Shreveport and Monroe in addition to New Orleans. "For us, Louisiana is one of our core states," Clay says, "especially with adding Baton Rouge." The Baton Rouge branch is the seventh new location for RSG in 2014. —Rachel Alexander

BR firm to launch first scheduling platform connecting patients with dentists

Baton Rouge-based LocalMed, which got its start in the LSU Student Incubator in 2011 and is a former Louisiana Business & Technology Center tenant, is set to launch in September a scheduling platform for patients to find and book dentist appointments online, the LBTC announced today. "Companies like LocalMed are a great example of the local creativity and innovative minds of our state's students and entrepreneurs," LBTC Executive Director Charles D'Agostino says in a prepared statement. "This company expanded and developed at the LBTC, and has now launched into national markets. LocalMed is hiring locals and recruiting experts, which is a big win for Louisiana." LocalMed will utilize its partnership with United Concordia dental insurance, which was formed in January, as a financial incentive for providers to join its new scheduling program. LBTC says LocalMed's online scheduling program is unique because the patient books a confirmed appointment through the company directly, rather than an appointment request, which requires further communication with the dental office. The scheduling platform automatically updates the provider's schedule and sends appointment reminders to the patient. Although the company is based in Louisiana, LocalMed was launched nationally and currently has providers in seven states. The company was launched by twin brothers Daniel and Derek Gilbert, and its CEO is Keith English. —Staff report

LSU to host its first-ever hackathon next month

For the first time in the university's history, LSU will host a 24-hour hackathon event. To be held on campus Aug. 30-31, GeauxHack was created by a group of undergraduates. "We wanted to organize a student hackathon here because unlike competitive programming competitions, hackathons are more product oriented," event organizer Howard Wang tells Silicon Bayou. "Being students ourselves, we feel that hackathons help turn computer science students into developers." GeauxHack is expecting at least 150 people to register for the event, which is free. All currently enrolled college or university students are eligible to compete, as well as some high school students on a case-by-case basis. GeauxHack is not only the first hackathon for LSU, it's the first such event to take place in Louisiana that is being sanctioned by Major League Hacking, which powers the official student hackathon league in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Get complete event details and register to attend.

'Business Report': Three generations of Dedmans have expanded a restaurant concept from carhop to catering

In 1972, a local restaurant owner named Frank Dedman Sr. made a life-changing decision. Eight years earlier, in 1964, he had opened a drive-in eatery that sold car-side burgers, poboys and homemade ice cream. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, the successful Blue Bird Drive-In grew to three locations in Baton Rouge, but Dedman predicted the eventual decline of the carhop concept and began considering a new format with staying power. He found it in the country breakfast. "My dad went from serving lunch and dinner to serving breakfast and lunch," says son Frank Dedman Jr. "He traded ice cream for biscuits." Dedman closed the Blue Birds but converted the one on Airline Highway north of Florida Boulevard to a new spot he named Frank's. The menu was steeped in Southern culinary staples. Breakfast was centered on buttermilk biscuits, pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Lunch was known for plate lunch specials, which Dedman's wife, Carolyn, prepared. The restaurant caught on fast, drawing plant workers from facilities located north on Airline Highway as well as families from the many neighborhoods in the Airline-Florida corridor. Dedman later bought land across the street and built a larger restaurant that was subsequently expanded. Fifty years after Dedman Sr. opened his first eatery, the family-run business is still going strong. Dedman Jr. and his wife, Cathy, took over operations of Frank's from his father in 1999, and now their children are involved in the operation as well. Read the full feature. Send your comments to editors@businessreport.com.

Hearing dates set in Common Core lawsuits

Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools. The Associated Press reports Judge Tim Kelley will hear arguments Aug. 15 in a lawsuit filed by 17 state lawmakers who are seeking an immediate suspension of the multi-state English and math standards in schools. The lawsuit alleges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the education department did not follow state law to enact Common Core. On Aug. 18, Judge Todd Hernandez will consider arguments in a separate lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who have sued Gov. Bobby Jindal. Their lawsuit alleges Jindal violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core. BESE on Tuesday voted to join in the effort against the governor, who in turn filed his own lawsuit in an attempt to block the implementation of tests affiliated with the controversial education standards.

Retirement system reviewing last-minute law change

An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase, The Associated Press reports. Irwin Felps, executive director of the Louisiana State Police Retirement System, says the system's attorneys are reviewing whether the law change was handled properly. Felps hopes to have an opinion letter within two weeks. The retirement hike was tacked onto an unrelated bill in the final hours of the legislative session, sparking criticism it was a backroom deal for a political insider. Edmonson announced last week he wouldn't take the pension boost and would ask lawmakers to revisit the issue. Treasurer John Kennedy, a retirement system board member, pushed for the investigation to continue to determine the law's constitutionality and its cost implications.

News roundup: Land records show Red River Bank bought Teche site on Essen for $2.4M … LSU AgCenter to dedicate new Animal and Food Sciences Laboratories Building next week … Oil companies get more time for input on government's offshore drilli

Done deal: Although Red River Bank didn't disclose the price it paid for the former Teche Federal Bank location at 5063 Essen Lane when it announced the deal Tuesday afternoon, the corresponding land record filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court today lists the price as $2,421,426. The property, located near Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and vacated following the merger of Teche and IBERIABANK, is 1.23 acres. Red River Bank Baton Rouge Market President Joanie Montelaro says the Red River branch there will open in January 2015.

New digs: The LSU AgCenter will host a dedication ceremony for its new Animal and Food Sciences Laboratories Building at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6. Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mayor Kip Holden will attend the dedication, along with LSU and AgCenter officials. Construction of the two-story, 49,000-square-foot building began in early 2012. It cost about $14 million, which was funded by a direct allocation from the Louisiana Legislature. The LSU AgCenter has more details on the new buidling and the dedication ceremony.

Deadline extension: Oil companies, environmentalists and other stakeholders will have more time to weigh in on what coastal waters should be available for drilling beginning in 2017. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today extended a public comment period seeking advice on where to sell outer continental shelf oil and gas leases from 2017 to 2022. The public comment period, originally set to close Thursday, has been extended an additional 15 days, to Aug. 15. As FuelFix.com reports, this is just the very start of a long process of assembling a new five-year plan for selling oil and gas leases in the waters off the U.S. coast. Read the full story.
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