A new era for The Advocate begins today with the official opening of its new headquarters on Rieger Road in Baton Rouge, next to the paper’s printing plant.
The building will house the Baton Rouge-based news staff, as well as the advertising, circulation and information technology departments, about 220 people in all. The Advocate also has news, sales and distribution offices in more than a dozen locations in south Louisiana.
John Georges, co-owner of The Advocate, said the new building is a symbol that the paper will remain the premier news and advertising source with a long-term commitment to having locally owned newspapers in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Acadiana.
“My wife, Dathel, and I bought The Advocate to keep it strong and maintain its historic role as a chronicler of the varied and rich life of south Louisiana,” Georges said. “The new building is a symbol of our confidence in the future.”
Dan Shea, president and publisher of the paper, said the new building is better suited for a modern media company, with improved technology and a more open floor plan that uses space more efficiently. A Webcast studio built into the newsroom will facilitate the growth of video on theadvocate.com.
Since 2007, the paper has rented space for its operations in a building on the campus of the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.
“One thing readers should know is that the move to our own building saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, money that will be flowed back into the quality of our paper and websites,” Shea said.
Shea said the location was chosen to reunite the business office and the production plant and to make The Advocate office a more visible presence in Baton Rouge.
Dominating the busy Interstate 10 interchange at Siegen Lane, the iconic glass building features a large electronic sign that will broadcast continual news updates and a lighting scheme that will celebrate the seasons and civic events.
Already, the building has been lit with the tricolored flag of France after the Paris terrorist attacks, and it will soon be lit with Christmas colors, and purple and gold on LSU game days.
In the two-story lobby, a mural will celebrate south Louisiana with more than 40 enlarged photos from The Advocate’s archive.
Georges decided the lobby will link two large community rooms that will soon be available to civic and social groups in the evenings and weekends. Early next year, the newspaper will hold an open house for members of the community who would like to tour the new building.
Beginning this morning, the public will be directed to the new building to pay bills, place obituaries, obtain back copies and conduct other business that used to be done on Bluebonnet Boulevard.
The newsroom will continue to be housed in the old building until early next year. All phone numbers will remain the same.
The building was designed by the Baton Rouge firm Remson Haley Heprin Architects and was built under budget and ahead of schedule by The Lemoine Co.
The paper is renovating a historic building on St. Charles Avenue near Lee Circle to house the news and business offices of The New Orleans Advocate. That building will be completed sometime during the summer.