This article was originally published by The Advocate
Vacant orange-brick buildings pocked with broken windows on the former Entergy site on Government Street will get new life as an entertainment venue, bowling alley, pizza parlor with microbrewery, healthy living center and 16 apartments.
“There is a high level of excitement for this,” said John Noland, who hopes what has been dubbed the Electric Depot “turns on the lights for that section of Government Street.”
The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, which Noland chairs, was given the property in 2013 by Entergy. The RDA has been pushing private redevelopment of the site as a catalyst for more activity in a neighborhood that is a heavily traveled transition area between downtown and Mid City.
The redevelopment project is pegged at $20 million. Dyke Nelson of Weinstein Nelson Development unveiled plans for the 6.1-acre property at 1509 Government St. at the RDA board of commissioners meeting Wednesday. The initial development already is 80 percent leased, he said.
Weinstein Nelson has been involved in a number of redevelopment projects across Baton Rouge, including the mixed-use 440 on Third building and the 500 Laurel St. site that are downtown.
The plans unveiled Wednesday are the first phase of the Electric Depot development. Nelson said there are "loose plans" for more than 100 housing units and more retail space. But the reaction of the market to the first phase will determine how much retail and office space will be included in future stages, he said.
The centerpiece will be Red Stick Social, a multi-level entertainment facility that will feature a bowling alley, a stage for live music, a kitchen and bar, and rooftop garden. The venue will be open to the public, and will be available for private parties and corporate events. Red Stick Social will be operated by Robert Lay, Trey Williams and Stephen Hightower. Williams and Hightower are owners of the popular local restaurants City Pork and Southfin Southern Poke.
The second building will have 16 one-bedroom apartments on top of 12,000 square feet of speculative retail space. Three of the apartments will be affordable housing, while the 13 other units will rent for under $1,000 a month, Nelson said.
The third building will be occupied by a yoga and cycling studio, along with a place selling healthy food. Nelson said the tenants for the space will be announced “relatively soon."
“It’s two groups with a great deal of experience in that area,” he said.