Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Planned location for downtown BR condos sold

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BATON ROUGE - The developer for a key piece of property in downtown Baton Rouge sold the land recently, after years of delays and obstacles to building condos in the location.

Richard Preis sold the spot on Lafayette Street between Laurel and Main to Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard for more than $3 million. Preis said today that even though his plans have changed, things are still moving forward for downtown Baton Rouge.

"We're very pleased that the individual that bought it shares our vision of downtown Baton Rouge," he told News 2.

Preis and his partner had spent the last several years trying to realize their plan of more residential spaces downtown, but told News 2 today higher construction costs after Katrina and the 2008 credit crisis kept that from happening.

"We had the worst credit crunch this country has ever seen since the great depression," he said. "Financing just was not available."

Other nearby businesses would like to see another large residential project, saying it's key to further development downtown.

"We're residential, that would lure more businesses to open up shops like boutiques, etc.," said Mutaz Abusada with Azteca's Restaurant. "Then you have department stores, shopping. We have no shopping down here."

Officials with the Downtown Development District agree with that assessment, that more people living downtown would drive further development.

"When we get that, everything changes. The market builds up and all sorts of new service industry is invited into the area."

No new plans for the property were immediately announced. Preis, meanwhile, is building the new Hampton Inn downtown, which should open in March.



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