Louisiana Realtors planning downtown BR office

The Louisiana Realtors wants to demolish a home at 821 Main St. and build a new two-story office building on the downtown Baton Rouge site.

The organization has submitted a demolition request to the city-parish Planning Commission. The commission is set to vote on the request at its April 21 meeting.

Malcolm Young, CEO of Louisiana Realtors, said the organization has been without a permanent office since May 2013, when its building on Bennington Avenue was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The organization is being temporarily housed in an office building on Hilton Avenue.

“Three or four years ago, we had a strategic planning session and one of our goals was to eventually have a presence downtown, near the Legislature,” Young said.

Young said the organization looked at “probably every single property downtown” before selecting the Main Street site. The home is currently owned by The Harmony Center, which operated a group home on the site for abused and neglected children as well as juvenile offenders. A contract to sell the home to the Louisiana Realtors is in place and the deal will close after the Planning Commission approves the demolition.

Young said the current home doesn’t meet the needs of Louisiana Realtors, making it necessary to demolish the house and build from the ground up.

The plan is to build a two-story building, with office space downstairs and a second floor with space for continuing education classes, receptions and meetings. The new building will be about 7,500 square feet, about the same as the old offices on Bennington, Young said.

The home isn’t considered a historic structure, but because the building is in the Downtown Development District the demolition has to go before the Planning Commission.

“We want to be good neighbors and bring something aesthetically pleasing to the neighborhood,” Young said. The 800 block of Main Street is changing, with the construction of The Creative Bloc, which leases space to businesses and entrepreneurs in fields such as video, film, photography, graphic arts and app development.

“It’s a whole new world over there on Main Street,” Young said.

Davis Rhorer, executive director of the DDD, said he’s not familiar with the history of the home at 821 Main St. But he said the Louisiana Realtors would be a welcome addition.

“We would love to have the presence of the Louisiana Realtors association downtown,” Rhorer said.