Commerce Building to Undergo $22M Conversion into Downtown Mixed-Use Property

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor The Commerce Building in Downtown Baton Rouge, which has sat vacant for the past three years after temporary state offices moved out, faces a $22 million overhaul. The redevelopment will turn the Commerce Building into a mixed-use project that will bring the area to life even after office hours, by introducing permanent residents and businesses [...]

The Commerce Building in Downtown Baton Rouge, which has sat vacant for the past three years after temporary state offices moved out, faces a $22 million overhaul. The redevelopment will turn the Commerce Building into a mixed-use project that will bring the area to life even after office hours, by introducing permanent residents and businesses that usually sprout up around residential areas.

The 180,000-square-foot property recently sold for $1.3 million, purchased by T.J. Iarocci on behalf of a New Orleans-based group of private investors, according to a report by The Advocate. The seller was Bob Dean.

The eight-story structure at Laurel and North Third Street was the first significant office property transaction in Baton Rouge since the recession.

The Commerce Building’s redevelopment would build out over 100 apartments as well as 75,000 square feet of retail space. The apartment units will be built in contemporary loft style and will rent at market rate, targeting a young demographic, especially professionals.  Over 100 parking spaces will be constructed inside the building to accommodate future residents.

The retail space will be located mostly at street level along both North Third Street and Laurel Street. Iarocci reportedly said there is a necessity for service-oriented retail, such as a boutique grocery store. The developer would also like to add a restaurant to the roof area to take advantage of the view on the Mississippi River.

The character and design of the 1950s building will be preserved.  A major influence on the project will be the award-winning Rice Mills Lofts redevelopment in New Orleans. Iarocci was one of the partners of that project which garnered national attention.

Financing will an estimated one year to secure, while the actual build out is expected to wrap up in 16 months.

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