Updated parking study planned

An updated study on downtown Baton Rouge’s parking needs could be conducted this fall.

The Metro Council is set to vote Wednesday on approving a $49,500 contract with AECOM to update the 2004 parking study, based on current demand, downtown traffic conditions and future development.

AECOM, an international engineering firm, has offices downtown.

“We’ve been very aggressive with new building development down here, and it’s important that we update those numbers and have a plan of smart use for all the structures here,” Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, said at the organization’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

Rhorer said the DDD wants to make sure that garages get 24-hour use, so spots used by workers during business hours could be occupied by visitors to downtown attractions or hotel guests at night.

“We want to get the most bang for our buck,” he said. The results of the study could lead to expansions of some parking garages, Rhorer said.

The study is expected to take 60 days to complete. AECOM acquired Gladding Jackson, the firm that did the 2004 study, so some of the same key employees will be involved in doing the work.

The new construction projects set to be completed in the next year or so — such as the IBM Service Center and adjoining residential tower, the Holiday Inn Express on North Boulevard and the Commerce Building redevelopment — will alter the parking landscape. City-parish officials are looking at installing new meters downtown and possibly raising parking rates. Work also is underway to add about 500 free parking spaces under Interstate 10 and Interstate 110, which Rhorer said could be used for daily parking and big weekend events.

In other DDD business:

APARTMENTS: Benjamin Stalter said demolition work has started on one of the two apartment buildings he co-owns on the 600 block of Spanish Town Road. Both buildings were heavily damaged by a fire in December 2009. The blaze destroyed so much of one building that it had to be torn down. Stalter plans to build two 1,200-square-foot apartments on the site of the destroyed building. He’ll extensively renovate the interior of the salvaged unit, which will have four one-bedroom apartments, 600 square feet in size. Rents haven’t been set, but Stalter said the goal is to lease units for about $1.45 per square foot. The properties will be available for pre-lease in March.

440 ON THIRD: Mary Nehlig, building manager for the 440 on Third mixed-use building, said 25 units have been pre-leased after about a month and a half. The development, set to open to residents on Jan. 1, will have 65 units. One-bedroom apartments in the building, at the corner of Main and Third streets, will rent for $995 a month, while two-bedroom apartments are $1,465 a month.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.