Ardendale work set to begin in August

Work on the first phase of the Ardendale mixed-use development is set to begin in October, the head of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority said Thursday.

Walter Monsour, the chief executive officer of the RDA, said during the organization’s board meeting that requests for bids to clear 30 acres of the development should go out sometime in July. The work should be finished by the end of the year.

The 200-acre tract is northeast of Baton Rouge Community College near Florida Boulevard, in a neighborhood bounded by Greenwell Springs Road and roughly between North Ardenwood Drive and North Lobdell Boulevard.

The first phase of Ardendale will include BRCC’s automotive training center building. Monsour said the construction plans for the building should be finalized in August. Construction is set to begin in January, and the work should be finished in August 2016, with the first students enrolling in the automotive center a month later.

Plans are also progressing for the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board’s Career Academy and a second BRCC building in Ardendale. Monsour said students should be using those properties by fall 2017.

Along with the educational components, Ardendale will eventually include 850 residential units, a hotel and 35,000 square feet of retail space. Mayor Kip Holden has said it will be the first large-scale development built in Mid City in more than 50 years.

In other business, James Andermann, the RDA’s director of real estate, said the agency bought five properties at a tax sale earlier this month for $144,291.

The properties were a mix of commercial, office and residential buildings. In 2013, the RDA started buying homes and land that were up for sale because their owners failed to pay property taxes. The properties still belong to the owners, who have three years to pay the back-taxes, penalties and interest to redeem their properties. The interest is 1 percent a month until the principle is paid.

The RDA has purchased 39 properties over the past year and a half. To date, 25 properties have been redeemed, netting $39,000 for the organization. If the 14 remaining properties are redeemed by July 1, the organization would get an additional $41,000.

The 2013 audit of the RDA was accepted. The audit, performed by Postlethwaite & Netterville, found no material weaknesses and no instances of noncompliance.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter @TCB_TheAdvocate.