Louisiana Realtors delays action on demolition

Louisiana Realtors has pulled a demolition request of a home at 821 Main St., and the association is determining if the building can be reused instead.

The city-parish Planning Commission was set to vote on the demolition at its April 21 meeting, but the Foundation for Historical Louisiana came out against tearing down the property, also known as the Cangelosi Home.

The home, which was built around 1922, is one of the last residences in Baton Rouge’s central business district.

The interim CEO of Louisiana Realtors, Norman Morris, said the organization has been looking for a permanent office since May, when its offices on Bennington Avenue were struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

“We also have an interest in participating actively in the downtown community and being a good neighbor,” Morris said in a statement. “We appreciate the recent discussions we’ve had with the Foundation for Historical Louisiana board of directors and respect their perspective.”

Scott Johnson, general counsel for Louisiana Realtors, said while there is not an obvious adaptive reuse of the building, the architects and general contractor will gather more information about the property.

“We’re going to gather the information to see if there is something that meets our needs and preserves the original structure,” he said.

The home is owned by The Harmony Center, which operated a group home on the site for abused and neglected children as well as juvenile offenders. The property is not currently in use. A sale agreement is in place with Louisiana Realtors, pending approval of the demolition.

Carolyn Bennett, executive director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, said she was “very gratified” that the demolition has been put on hold. Officials with the Louisiana Realtors met last week with the foundation board to discuss the building.

“We would very much like to continue a discussion with them hand in glove to make this great classic prairie-style building work as a headquarters for the Louisiana Realtors,” she said. “It needs a new life.”

Historic tax credits could be used to convert the home into a headquarters building for the Realtors, Bennett said.