By Cody Worsham
Scanning the horizons of Baton Rouge presents plenty of reason for optimism. The Capital City is growing in many ways, with progress coming culturally and developmentally – and sometimes both simultaneously. There are literally hundreds of projects on tap in 2015 for the city, but for reasons of space and time, we’ve limited our scope in this article to developments taking place downtown. We’re excited about many coming attractions, but these five Baton Rouge projects and trends for 2015 have particularly piqued our interests.
As business grows downtown, so too, naturally, does the demand for residency, and several new residential developments are set to open in the New Year. Among them are 525 Lafayette (above), a riverfront property that will entail both the offices for IBM’s Services Center and 85 residential units; 440 on Third, an eight-story building from the 1950s that will be home to 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as a new Matherne’s Supermarket and USAgencies office; and the Onyx Residences, a mixed-use development on the corner of Third and Convention, a $7 million project featuring 28 residences. These are among a handful of new residential projects set to begin or complete construction in 2015, opening the doors for the city’s young professionals to inhabit the same areas they current work.
The Water Campus is the result of a massive collaboration between ouisiana Department of Economic Development, Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF), the City of Baton Rouge, The Water Institute of the Gulf, Louisiana State University, and other coastal research institutes. Totalling more than $50 million in public and private investment, the riverfront campus will house The Water Institute of the Gulf, a research group focused on developing scientific coastal restoration solutions. The $20 million headquarters will be 45,000 square feet on the Mississippi Riverfront at the old Municipal Dock near the I-10 overpass. It marks huge steps forward for the city’s economic, scientific, and cultural climates.
This collaborative space for professionals at the cutting edge of digital media opened this fall, with a ribbon cutting set for early 2015. An 11,500-square foot consolidation of three historic buildings at Eighth and Main Streets, The Creative Bloc brings together multi-talented workers at the intersections of audio, video, film, design, photography, graphic arts, and communications, all industries thriving in Louisiana’s digital-friendly economy. This is more than an office space, though – it’s a place where creatives can meet, mingle, and combine their ideas to move the city forward.
2014 saw the opening of the Main Library Branch near Independence Park, a modern, sleek center for the parish’s library system. In the coming year, downtown will get its own new book building, a $19 million, 45,000-square foot center overlooking North Boulevard’s Town Square. Equipped with the latest technology and dressed in modern architecture, it will be one of the latest additions to the ‘Central Green’ –a system of attractions in the heart of the city that provides a unified stream of entertainment, assets, and public spaces for the city to make use of – when construction begins in summer 2015.
This pedestrian and bicycling corridor will link Baton Rouge’s residential neighborhoods to local parks, attractions, and businesses. Final plans should be available in the third quarter of 2015, but residents can expect an interconnected network of 10-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian trails that make use of current public parks, right-of-ways, and interstate infrastructure.