The Advocate to build new Baton Rouge headquarters

The Advocate will build a new corporate headquarters in Baton Rouge from which to manage its growing portfolio of newspapers and websites across south Louisiana.

The building will be on a now-vacant lot fronting the paper’s production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near Interstate 10.

The three-story, 48,500- square-foot building will house the newsroom of the Baton Rouge Advocate, as well as the business offices for all three of The Advocate’s daily papers and its growing number of weekly papers.

“We hope the building will be seen as an iconic landmark along I-10,” said Publisher John Georges, who, with his wife, Dathel, bought the paper in 2013 and quickly started fully local editions of The Advocate in New Orleans and Acadiana. “Dathel and I are pleased to increase our investment here in Baton Rouge as well as other places in Louisiana where we do business.”

The building will feature a façade that will be lighted in a variety of colors, from Advocate red to purple and gold on LSU game days. It will have a large digital display that will post the latest news, and the newsroom will have a webcast studio.

There will be a large meeting room with a catering kitchen available to community groups. The entire complex will be powered by standby generator power in case of storms to ensure the paper and websites stay working in the event of a hurricane.

“We want our headquarters to be seen as a community asset, a place for civic gatherings,” Georges said.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for Nov. 1 with a move-in date in early 2016.

The paper now rents a building on the Bluebonnet Boulevard campus of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, which it moved into in 2005.

“The ministry has been a good landlord, but we prefer to own our own building in a highly visible location,” said Dan Shea, president of The Advocate. “It will be large enough to house our current staff as well as the additional growth we anticipate in the future.”

Shea said he wanted the business staff to be adjacent to the production staff to make the company more united. A bridge across a retention pond will connect the two campuses, with a landscaped break area for employees.

Lemoine Co. LLC will be the general contractor for the building. Remson|Haley|Herpin Architects designed it.

The New Orleans Advocate is building a newsroom and local advertising office on St. Charles Avenue, while The Acadiana Advocate has upgraded and expanded its headquarters in Lafayette.

The paper recently added a third inserting machine line to its packaging center to improve deadline times, especially during the fall season.

“We have been growing rapidly and have invested to improve service,” Shea said. “We have plenty of room in the production plant to add more machinery as we grow further.”