Tax sale properties, block development funds OK'd

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority’s board on Tuesday authorized spending up to $500,000 on tax-delinquent properties at sheriff’s auctions and approved gap financing to stimulate redevelopment of a block on Government Street.

Vice President Mark Goodson said the RDA has its eye on acquiring 50 tax sale properties in its target areas throughout the parish, with the first tax sale being held Wednesday. By law, the RDA has the first claim to properties sold at auction for non-payment of taxes, though the conventional mortgage holder of any of the properties can still step forward Wednesday and claim their property by paying the taxes owed.

Goodson said there are about 7,000 properties up for auction, and the RDA will have to pay the Sheriff’s Office by Thursday. The RDA would take ownership of the properties by some point in July.

The RDA’s mission includes purchasing adjudicated properties at city-parish tax sales, clearing their titles and putting them back into commerce through nonprofit and community organizations.

The meeting, called hastily but more than 24 hours before it was held, had a quorum of three board members present. They voted unanimously to authorize the tax sale purchases.

They also voted unanimously to approve $700,000 in gap financing for Danny McGlynn’s redevelopment of the Government Street block east of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

That project, called Model Block and anchored on the east corner by the old Darensbourg building, would include taking down a building that is now home to Effum Bodyworks Tattoos and Piercings to replace it with parking. McGlynn wants to put in a retail user on the ground floor of the Darensbourg building. Ritter Mayer Architects, which is spearheading the building’s renovation, would be on the second floor.

Susanna Bing, the RDA’s director of finance and economic development, told the board the tattoo parlor building will be torn down because it is cost prohibitive to renovate. McGlynn doesn’t own that building, or the building leased by Liberty Tax Service next to it, but has permission from the owner to take it down.

Denicola’s, Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop, the vacant Mid City Bikes building and Liberty Tax will stay, though the latter could move to make way for a coffee shop, Bing said.

McGlynn has a long-term land lease with the owner of the Liberty Tax and tattoo parlor buildings, Bing said. Work could begin by the fall.

The $700,000 loan, contingent on McGlynn getting a parking waiver from the Planning Commission, will be at 4 percent and interest-only for the first two years and at 4 percent beyond that for the term set by IberiaBank for the rest of the project’s financing, Bing said.

The funds for the adjudicated properties and the gap financing for McGlynn’s project will both come from the RDA’s existing grant from the East Baton Rouge Mortgage Finance Authority.