Historical foundation opposes demolition of building

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana has come out against the Louisiana Realtors’ proposal to demolish a home in downtown Baton Rouge to make room for its new offices.

The Realtors association has filed a demolition request with the city-parish Planning Commission to tear down the home at 821 Main St. so it can build a two-story, 7,500-square-foot office building that will be its new home. The commission is set to vote on the request at its April 21 meeting.

The chairman of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Doug Cochran, said the home at was earmarked as a significant historical property by the city in 1984. Cochran said the property, also known as the Cangelosi Home and built around 1922, is one of the last residences in Baton Rouge’s central business district.

The home is currently owned by The Harmony Center, which operated a group home on the site for abused and neglected children as well as juvenile offenders. A sale agreement is in place with the Louisiana Realtors, pending approval of the demolition.

Louisiana Realtors has said its current home doesn’t meet the organization’s needs, making demolition necessary, but Cochran said the property can be rehabilitated.

“The property has ample raw land for a new facility, landscaping and parking. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana board desires to discuss rehabilitation options made affordable via the available historic tax credits,” Cochran said. “The economic viability of restoring a building has been proven countless times in downtown Baton Rouge, from the Heidelberg Hilton to the Hotel Indigo to the beautiful homes on North Boulevard being utilized for business purposes.”

Cochran noted that The Creative Bloc, a new business on Main and North Eighth streets that leases space to visual media professionals, is extensively renovating three buildings rather than tearing them down. “There are all these nice things going on,” he said. “We want the Realtors to be a part of that and utilize the tax abatements.”

Some portions added to the home since it was first built should be demolished, such as a concrete block portion on the back, he said.

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana board of directors is set to discuss the building at its March 20 meeting. At that time, it will provide a recommendation on the demolition to the Planning Commission. Officials from Louisiana Realtors have been invited to the meeting to discuss the history of the building and the possibility of saving the original part of the home.

Malcolm Young, CEO of Louisiana Realtors, was in a meeting and unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon. Young has said the home isn’t considered a historic structure, but because the building is in the Downtown Development District the demolition has to go before the Planning Commission.

But the historical foundation noted that the Cangelosi Home is included in a list compiled by the city-parish Historic Preservation Commission of potential local landmarks. The preservation commission will discuss the property at its March 26 meeting.

“It would be sad for the community to sit back and lose yet again such a significant historical structure,” Cochran said.