The developers behind a $4.7 million apartment building on Main Street downtown have purchased the property, begun construction and expect to be finished in about 10 months.
The property at 438 Main St. was purchased earlier this week from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Commercial Properties Development Corp. after it tore down the former Brown building on the site.
The new owners, Norman Chenevert and Helena and Kevin Cunningham, paid $369,544 for the property and have gotten the notice to proceed on the project, Chenevert said.
“It’s going to be a ground-up, brand-new apartment building,” he said. “You’ll have a community right there in that little site.”
The 22-unit apartment building — called 438 Main Street — will be a mix of affordable and market-rate units ranging from $300 on the low end and $1,100 on the market-rate end, Helena Cunningham said.
Seventeen will be affordable housing rate, with three going as low as $300, and five will be market rate, Cunningham said.
She noted that one- and two- bedroom units will be available in each rate category and there won’t be a difference in the units themselves, regardless of which rate category they fall in.
The project, first announced last year, is unique in that it will put a large number of rental units on the market at a lower rate than some of the pricier lofts that have come on the market two and three at a time.
Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, said his office has gotten calls asking about the availability of moderately priced apartments.
As happy as he’s been to see lofts and apartments at One Eleven, Kress at Third & Main and Danny McGlynn’s properties, Rhorer said “this is another price range that we think there’s a strong market for.”
Cunningham, a past director of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, has done affordable housing developments in New Orleans. She said $3.5 million of the project cost is federal funding through a state program formed after hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
The remaining $1.2 million is being financed through Liberty Bank.
Chenevert, who also owns Chenevert Architects and sits on the DDD’s board of commissioners, said the apartments will be an option for state and city-parish workers who want to live close to their jobs.
He said the development is also another step in growing the number of residents downtown, which is seen as crucial for attracting retail and other services.
“What those people look for is how many households are in that area. The more residential units we got, the more likely we’ll get a badly needed grocery store or drugstore,” he said.