Planning Commission Approves Rezoning for 33-Acre Baton Rouge Water Campus

Baton Rouge’s Water Campus project has taken another step forward. On Monday, October 20, the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission approved the first component of the 33-acre development along the city’s riverfront.

Water Campus Rendering

Baton Rouge’s Water Campus project has taken another step forward. On Monday, Oct. 20, the East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission approved the first component of the 33-acre development along the city’s riverfront.

Commissioners approved the rezoning of a 2-acre site at 510 Oklahoma St. from general residential to office. The developers of the Water Campus plan to build a four-story office building on the site. It will serve as the new headquarters of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, a state agency responsible for coastal restoration and protection projects and planning in Louisiana. The CPRA will move 165 of its administrators, scientists, technicians and office support staff into the 65,000-square-foot facility.

Last December, when plans for the Water Campus project were first unveiled, the developers said the new office building is expected to cost approximately $9 million. It is one of three buildings included in the first phase of the development. The other two are the $20 million, 45,000-square-foot headquarters of the Water Institute of the Gulf, and the 50,000-square-foot River Modeling Center. The latter facility will be a small-scale physical model of the lower Mississippi River operated by LSU for the study of all facets of ground and water behavior.

All three properties are scheduled to open in 2016. Phase one of the Water Campus project represents a total investment of over $50 million.

Baton Rouge’s Water Campus will be a world-class research park dedicated to the study of coastal restoration and sustainability. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is developing it through its real estate company, Commercial Properties Real Estate Trust, on land donated by the state, between the Mississippi River Bridge, Nicholson Drive, Oklahoma Street and the river. Besides BRAF and the state of Louisiana, other partners on the project include the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, LSU, the Water Institute of the Gulf, and the city-parish.

Once complete, the Water Campus will support Louisiana’s $50 billion, 50-year Master Plan for coastal protection and restoration. It will also help improve the local economy, as it is expected to become a catalyst for development in the area and to create as many as 45,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

Photo credit: Commercial Properties Real Estate Trust