Milton J. Womack recently started construction on a $20 million mixed-used building conversion project in downtown Baton Rouge.
The project was designed by New Orleans-based architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and involves the conversion of 180,000 square feet of office space to a mixed-use commercial and multifamily building with a parking garage.
Ninety-three apartment units will be constructed on the second through eighth floors, ranging in size from 600 to 1,500 square feet. A 110-car garage will be constructed in the existing basement while public decks, a fitness center, pool, and 5,000-square-foot restaurant will be erected on the rooftop addition. The ground floor will feature 6,500 square feet of retail space.
Womack will also paint the exterior facade and refurbish the existing historic windows on the building.
The Commerce Building was originally constructed as an "international style" building in 1955 and has a number of historic elements. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple associate Jason Richards says there were some challenges with the rooftop design being pursued alongside state and historic tax credits.
Historic preservation bodies placed a lot of scrutiny on the design relative to the existing building. The design had to meet modern functionality while retaining historic architectural elements.
"It was a challenge to keep the design acceptable to the National Park Service while still preserving a useable space," says Richards. "In the end the design was a successful effort."
The 8-story corner building had sat vacant for more than five years. The development of the property is expected to encourage continued transformation of the city's downtown area into a mixed-use neighborhood.
The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.