State BR building attracts $10.25 million bid

A company set up by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation was the high bidder for the State Office Building at 150 Third St., pledging $10.25 million for the property.

The group, known as 150 Third Street LLC, was one of two companies that bid on the downtown property.

The bidding was supposed to close last week, but the severe winter storm that shut down state offices and froze streets across Baton Rouge led to a delay.

BRAF President and CEO John Davies said the organization has ideas for the future of the office building but wouldn’t say anything until all planning is done.

“In acquiring this building, we are very pleased to continue a partnership with the state of Louisiana on projects that improve East Baton Rouge Parish,” Davies said. “As we did in rehabbing the Capitol House into a Hilton, we are purchasing this building to produce a social benefit — putting it back into commerce to continue the revival of downtown as prescribed by Plan Baton Rouge.”

BRAF has played a role in many downtown developments, from the Shaw Center for the Arts, to the IBM service center and residential tower under construction on Lafayette Street to the Water Campus on the old Municipal Docks just south of the Mississippi River Bridge.

Kristy Nichols, commissioner of administration, said the sale will maintain a balanced budget for the state and continue the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge.

“This property sale is a wonderful opportunity for both Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana,” Nichols said. The money from the sale will be wired to the state treasury and credited to the state overcollections fund.

The Jindal Administration announced last year it wanted to sell the 12-story, 92,567-square-foot commercial office building in order to help balance the budget.

The state hoped to get $10.2 million for selling the art deco building at the corner of Third and Convention streets.

Other properties on the state’s sales list included a portion of the Southeast Louisiana Hospital campus in St. Tammany Parish and the nearly 2,200-acre Point Clair Farm in Iberville Parish.

The State Office Building was constructed in the 1926 and was the first skyscraper in Baton Rouge. It had been the home of state higher education offices and the Louisiana Board of Regents until about six or eight months ago, said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District.

“The building has incredible architectural features both interior and exterior,” he said.

The State Office Building is across Third Street from The Onyx building, which is being redeveloped by Commercial Properties Realty Trust, which manages and develops BRAF’s property holdings. Commercial Properties will spend $6 million to redevelop the property, which has been renamed The Onyx Residences. Plans are to have 28 one- and two-bedroom apartments built above 5,600 square feet of commercial space.

The Onyx Residences and the State Office Building are two of several redevelopment projects underway along Third Street, Rhorer said. Plans are underway to turn The Commerce Building into a mixed-use property with about 92 loft apartments, a private events deck and a rooftop restaurant. Work has started on 440 on Third, which will turn the former Capital One Bank building into an apartment/office building with a Matherne’s Supermarket on the ground floor.

“There will be a transformation of this Third Street corridor the likes of which we have never seen before,” Rhorer said. “In several years, this will be a totally different street.”