Louisiana Realtors decides against downtown BR demolition

Advocate photo by TIMOTHY BOONE -- Louisiana Realtors has decided against demolishing a house at 821 Main St., known as the 'Cangelosi Home,' and will make extensive renovations to the downtown Baton Rouge property for the association's new offices.
Advocate photo by TIMOTHY BOONE -- Louisiana Realtors has decided against demolishing a house at 821 Main St., known as the 'Cangelosi Home,' and will make extensive renovations to the downtown Baton Rouge property for the association's new offices.

Louisiana Realtors has decided against demolishing a Main Street home to make room for its new offices and will make extensive renovations to the downtown Baton Rouge property.

Norman Morris, chief executive officer for the state Realtors association, said after looking at the numbers, it was determined that the better option both financially and for the sake of historic preservation is to keep the home at 821 Main St. standing.

“It couldn’t have worked out better,” Morris said. “We’re truly excited. Downtown Baton Rouge is booming and a great place to be.”

Plans for Louisiana Realtors to demolish the Main Street property, known as the Cangelosi Home, drew opposition from the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. The home, built around 1922, is one of the last residences in Baton Rouge’s central business district.

The Louisiana Realtors will remove an addition from the back of the home and replace it with a new section that fits in better with the existing building. Construction is expected to begin sometime between August and November. The work is expected to take 15 to 18 months, Morris said.

Once all of the work is finished, the building will be about 8,500 square feet. That’s larger than the new 7,500-square-foot building that would have been built on the site of the Cangelosi Home. The new offices will have space for continuing education classes, receptions and meetings.

Doug Cochran, chairman of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, said while he has not seen the final plan for the new Louisiana Realtors office, he said the decision to renovate the building instead of tearing it down is a “fantastic plan.”

“I can’t think of a group that has worked harder,” Cochran said. “They regrouped, worked out their options and came up with the best thing for them and downtown.”

Carolyn Bennett, executive director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, said the board and directors of the organization were “thrilled” with the news from Louisiana Realtors.

“The historic building will bring lots of cachet to their operation and members,” Bennett said. “It’s a smart move for them and a victory for preservation.”

The Realtors association has applied for state and historic tax credits to help cover the costs of the remodeling. The state tax credits work with federal tax credits to give developers a 45 percent credit for the eligible cost and expenses of the renovation of an approved historic structure.

Over the years, the credit has been used for a number of downtown projects, such as the renovation of the Hilton hotel, the Hotel Indigo and the redevelopement of the Capital One bank building into 440 on Third, which will include a Matherne’s supermarket, office space and apartments.

“These tax credits make a project that is not economical from the ground up, definitely doable,” Cochran said.

Louisiana Realtors 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 temporarily housed in an office building on Hilton Avenue.

Louisiana Realtors will complete the purchase of the building in the next month and a half or so. 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.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate