Our Views: A river road to growth

New development is poised to take off along the Nicholson Drive corridor between LSU and downtown Baton Rouge.

It has been a bit of time coming. Significant tracts have been cleared of older structures, with landowners looking to develop their properties.

An owner of one of the putative projects, now ready to begin construction, aptly noted that a national financial crisis and a couple of bad hurricane seasons had a way of holding matters up.

Now, a $26.4 million apartment, office and retail complex could begin construction on the 10-acre site of the former Prince Murat Hotel at Nicholson and Oklahoma Street.

While new plans have not been finalized for other properties along Nicholson, there is reason to believe that the properties to the south might become more attractive as the national market for financing improves. And at LSU itself, the old graduate student housing across Nicholson from the main campus is a prime candidate for extensive redevelopment at some future point.

The Future Baton Rouge master plan has promoted the development of a more vibrant Nicholson corridor, perhaps one day including streetcar service — similar to that so successful in New Orleans — from the LSU area north to downtown.

With growth in downtown as a living, as well as working, neighborhood, and with LSU’s dynamic prospects in view, we agree with Marc Blumberg, a developer of the River House project on the Prince Murat site. “We think there will be a lot of others who choose to follow,” he said.

We agree, and hope that the highest standards of planning for transportation and walkability will be part of the Nicholson corridor’s bright future.