Finalists selected for midcity Entergy site development plan

Teams headed up by firms with close ties to Baton Rouge have been selected as the finalists to create a plan to map out the redevelopment of a 100-acre section of Midcity surrounding the former Entergy site on Government Street.

Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., of Miami, and Architects Southwest, of Lafayette, were the two leading vote-getters at a selection meeting Monday. The two firms will make their presentations to the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority board of commissioners at a meeting at 9 a.m. Aug. 18 in the Metro Council Chambers. Each team will make a 30-minute presentation.

Walter Monsour, chief executive officer of RDA, said the agency sees the 6-acre Entergy site at 1509 Government St. as being a retail and commercial hub for Midcity. Housing isn’t being considered for the property, other than possibly building lofts over retailers on the site.

“There’s plenty of residential stock throughout the 100 or so acres” that surrounds the property, Monsour said. “Our desire would be to do rehab and build anew on those vacant lots.”

The selection committee looked at a number of factors in evaluating the teams, such as experience creating master plans using commercial and residential market analysis, successful implementation and building of mixed-use projects, experience with real estate financing in low-income communities and familiarity with East Baton Rouge Parish and Midcity.

“This was a request for qualifications,” Monsour said, noting that the teams were not asked to give specific plans for what they would do for the area.

The RDA said the predevelopment plan, which is being paid for with a $284,000 grant from the State Office of Community Development, will give potential developers of the site a road map for what the RDA wants to see in the area. The area is roughly bordered by the south side of Government Street, North Boulevard, 22nd Street and Interstate 110. The main predevelopment plan is budgeted at $190,000; all of the plans submitted came in at or below budget.

The work on the plan is expected to begin Sept. 1 and be completed by March.

DPZ is led by Andres Duany, the urban planner who led development of the master plan for downtown Baton Rouge. The team, which had the highest amount of points on scoresheets at Monday’s meeting, also includes Chenevert Architects of Baton Rouge; Stantec, an engineering firm with Baton Rouge offices; local developers Danny McGlynn and Donnie Jarreau; the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a Chicago think-tank that promotes sustainable development in cities; and MindMixer, an Omaha, Nebraska, company that helps organizations connect with local communities.

Architects Southwest is headed by Steve Oubre, who has been involved in smart growth communities like the RDA’s Ardendale development and the River District mixed-use development between downtown and LSU. The other members of the team are Stantec; Onsite Design + Development, a Baton Rouge company that specializes in land planning and home design; Ty Gose, a local agent with NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial Real Estate; Forte & Tablada, a Baton Rouge engineering firm; Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architect of Alexandria; and RCLCO, an Orlando real estate consulting business.

Those two teams beat out four other applicants: Dover Khol & Partners of Miami; the Design Workshop of Austin, Texas; The Walker Collaborative of Nashville, Tennessee; and Perez Architecture of New Orleans.

“Honestly, I think every one of these groups could do this job,” said Samuel Sanders, executive director of the Midcity Redevelopment Alliance, and a member of the selection committee. “I don’t think we’ll lose whichever way we go. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

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