Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Tue, September 16, 2014


Despite marketing materials, BRAF says Acadian Village not on the market

HFF, a national real estate firm based in Dallas, is circulating an offering memorandum for the Acadian Village shopping center, Commercial Properties Realty Trust's retail development at the intersection of Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway. But a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which owns CPRT, says the 11-month-old shopping center is not on the market. "The Foundation and CPRT are repositioning real estate assets," says BRAF spokesman Mukul Verma. "In doing so, we are getting an indication of the value of the assets. Only after that will we decide which, if any, assets will be sold." The 40-page offering memorandum suggests otherwise. According to the document: "An exceptional opportunity has been created to acquire Acadian Village, a 100% leased, 79,920-square-foot, grocery-anchored retail center located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana." The document goes on to say the property "is being offered free and clear of any existing financing thus allowing investors to capitalize on today's historically low interest rate environment, thereby generating substantial leveraged returns." The document estimates that annual revenues from Acadian Village are around $2 million. The listing agent on the property, Douglas Hazelbaker, declines to comment. The offering memorandum also includes two more interesting tidbits: Lululemon, the trendy women's boutique, is planning to open its second Louisiana location in the shopping center, and Tesla Motor Co. has chosen the shopping center as the site of its only Louisiana supercharger station. See the complete offering memorandum for Acadian Village. —Stephanie Riegel

Mid City alliance disappointed with Circle K plans for Government site

The Mid City Redevelopment Alliance is disappointed with the Planning Commission's vote on Monday evening to approve plans for Circle K to expand its footprint at Government Street and South Foster Drive because the plan doesn't align with the city-parish master plan or the alliance's pedestrian-friendly goals for the area. Planning Commission Resource Center Coordinator Gilles Morin says the commission staff recommended denying the Circle K request because it doesn't fit with the area's urban design overlay district. Samuel Sanders, executive director of the MCRA, says he wishes Circle K had contacted the alliance with its plans before it went before the commission. "It's a challenge for us; while we welcome the investment, we would also appreciate alignment to the overlay district," Sanders says. Circle K plans to raze the existing gas station and car wash at Government and South Foster and rebuild a new 4,400-square-foot station and 1,040-square-foot car wash on site. Additionally, Circle K plans to build another 3,052-square-foot retail space on the site, according to plans filed with the Planning Commission. It's unclear what the intended use of the extra retail space is. Circle K representatives did not return calls for comment in time for this afternoon's deadline. See the complete Circle K plan submitted to the commission. —Kelly Connelly Read the full story here.

Alvarez buys 44 lots at $2.5M for Coursey area subdivision

Alvarez Construction has purchased land for a new 44-lot subdivision called Parkview Point, located off Stumberg Lane near Coursey Boulevard. The land was sold by DAGR LLC for slightly more than $2.5 million, according to paperwork filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. According to Sebastian Alvarez, executive vice president of planning and development, construction will begin before the end of this month and the neighborhood will be finished in eight to 10 months. Homebuyers will be able to move in even sooner than that, he says. "We can have a house finished in 65 days," Alvarez says. Homes will be built with a minimum of 1,600 square feet of living area. Alvarez says the homes will be priced beginning at $220,000. "It's a great location. The Coursey-Bluebonnet corridor has always been a really strong area," Alvarez says. The land purchase included a 1.3-acre common area for a pond at the entrance to the subdivision. —Kelly Connelly

Cook: Prairieville site purchased for new Keller Williams First Choice office

Bruce Johnson has purchased a roughly 1.7-acre site near the intersection of Airline Highway and Commerce Centre Drive, near La. 42 in Prairieville, from Neighbors Federal Credit Union. According to Justin Langlois with Sperry Van Ness, who brokered the transaction, Neighbors had acquired about 2.6 acres at the site a few years ago and is selling off a portion of their original purchase to Johnson. The sale closed for $495,000, or about $6.70 per square foot. Neighbors is retaining slightly less than an acre of land at the corner of Commerce Centre Drive and Airline Highway. Johnson will construct a 6,500-square-foot office building for Keller Williams First Choice. First Choice was looking for a site to take advantage of the growth in the Ascension Parish market, and this site fit their needs, Langlois says. Construction of the building should begin sometime in the next few months.

(Appraiser Tom Cook owns Cook Moore and Associates. Reach him at 293-7006 or TCook@cookmoore.com.)

Editor's note: Columnist Brian Andrews is off this week.

Several BR businesses file plans for remodeling projects

LeBlanc's Food Stores, which will open up a LeBlanc's Frais Marche supermarket to replace the closed Hi Nabor in the Drusilla Village Shopping Center, has submitted a plan review application with the Department of Public Works, signaling the impending construction. Donnie Jarreau Real Estate bought the shopping center for $10.5 million in April, promising a facelift and new tenants. According to the application, the store will be over 30,000 square feet, which will be a significant expansion from the former Hi Nabor store, which measured about 19,000 square feet. Robert Holtzclaw from Monroe is the architect on the project. Renovations are expected to take between three and four months. The application is among a number received by DPW recently from Baton Rouge businesses with remodeling plans. Among them, the Burlington Coat Factory at Airline and Old Hammond highways submitted an application for a $200,000 remodel. —Kelly Connelly Read the full story here.

BR sees GDP rise 6.5% in 2013, 17th best pace among US cities

Baton Rouge's real gross domestic product increased by 6.5% in 2013, which was the 17th largest increase by percentage among the nation's 381 metro areas. According to new data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Baton Rouge was ranked No. 55 nationally last year for GDP, or the total value of goods and services it produced, which was approximately $52.2 billion. In 2012, the Baton Rouge GDP was just shy of $50 billion. Baton Rouge was among 292 of the nation's 381 metros to see its real GDP rise last year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis says. The bureau attributes the increases to "widespread growth in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing, nondurable-goods manufacturing, and professional and business services." See the complete report. —Steve Sanoski

Jindal says Landrieu out of touch with La. voters

Democrat Mary Landrieu's years in the Senate and chairmanship of a key energy committee haven't yielded much in the way of tangible benefits for Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal says. "She hasn't been able to actually produce policy results that are beneficial to our energy economy, our energy industries back home,'' Jindal told reporters this morning at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "I don't think that her time in D.C., her experience, will be an advantage. If anything, it's a disadvantage.'' Jindal, chairman of America NEXT, a conservative policy group he started, was in Washington, D.C., to unveil his national energy plan. As Gannett Louisiana reports, energy is expected to be one of several key issues in Louisiana's competitive Senate race, in which Landrieu is defending her seat against a challenge from Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a Republican and tea party favorite. The race could help determine control of the Senate. "We absolutely have to beat Mary Landrieu,'' says Jindal, who did not offer an endorsement in the race. "She is out of touch with the voters in Louisiana.'' Louisiana Democrats disputed Jindal's claims. "The facts are that Sen. Landrieu has helped to open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf for new oil and gas drilling and secured millions to restore Louisiana's coast,'' says Kirstin Alvanitakis, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Democratic Party. Read the full story.

News roundup: Judge throws out pension hikes as unconstitutional … La. records 114 work-related deaths in 2013 … La. said to have nation's highest percentage of singles

'Unconstitutional on its face': A state district judge today threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session, The Associated Press reports. Judge Janice Clark ruled that the Louisiana Legislature didn't follow proper procedure in approving the enhanced benefits for Col. Mike Edmonson and a 32-year trooper in Houma. She ruled the pension change "is unconstitutional on its face." After the hearing, Edmonson said he was grateful for the judge's decision. "I just hate this thing drew out so long," he said. "I had no intention of taking it." Read the full story.

By the numbers: The number of work-related deaths decreased slightly in Louisiana last year, according to a preliminary count by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, released today by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. A total of 114 people died in work-related incidents in the state last year, down from 116 in 2012. "Industries reporting the most fatalities in 2013 were trade, transportation and utilities with 37, construction with 17, natural resources and mining with 15, professional and business services with 14, manufacturing with 11 and government with nine," says the LWC, which has more details on work-related deaths and injuries in the state last year.

All alone or in twos: Louisiana is tied with Rhode Island as the states with the highest share of residents who are single, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census data by the Martin Prosperity Institute. More than half of Louisiana and Rhode Island residents—55.7%—are single, divorced or have never been married, according to the analysis. Nationwide, there were 128.2 million singles in the U.S. last year, or 51.2% of the population. Singles make up more than half of the population in 27 of the 50 states. The Atlantic has the full story.
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