A flurry of work is going on at the 440 on Third mixed-use building in anticipation of apartment tenants moving in on Jan. 1 and the long-awaited Matherne’s Supermarket opening Jan. 5.
“It looks crazy over there,” Dyke Nelson, the architect who owns the building with David Weinstein, said at Tuesday’s Downtown Development District Commission meeting. “We have hundreds and hundreds of workers there every day.”
Nelson also said plans are already in the works for his next two downtown projects: a 30,000-square-foot office building at 500 Laurel St. and apartments in the Lafayette House.
The activity at the former Capital One bank building is going on to make 440 on Third ready for the Jan. 1 opening. There will be 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, Nelson said, and 58 of the units are already leased, including all of the one-bedrooms.
The 16,000-square-foot grocery store will officially open Jan. 5, but if everything is completed early, Nelson said Matherne’s may have a soft opening before then.
After the apartments and supermarket open, the next step for 440 on Third is the opening of the USAgencies offices. The office will officially open Feb. 1, so about 120 employees will slowly start moving into the space all during the month of January, Nelson said.
“I’m very excited about where we are,” Nelson said. “If I get some sleep over the next two weeks, I will be surprised.”
As for Nelson’s next projects, he and Weinstein are working with Carolyn Bennett, executive director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, on historic tax credits for 500 Laurel. Built in the late 1950s as the Union Federal Savings & Loan building, 500 Laurel was designed by architect A. Hays Town.
“We’re hearing there’s a demand for Class A office space downtown,” Nelson said. The first floor of the building, which features a drive-thru, could potentially be redeveloped as a pharmacy.
While Nelson had talked about turning the Lafayette House into a four-story condominium development, the new plan is to add a floor to make it a five-story apartment building. If all goes well, construction on the building could begin in the first quarter of 2015.
In other business:
TREES/SIDEWALKS: The DDD will spend about $300,000 replacing trees and fixing sidewalks in a busy section of downtown, along Florida Street from River Road to Fourth Street and on Lafayette Street from the Hampton Inn to Hotel Indigo.
Gabe Vicknair, assistant executive director for the DDD, said the work is set to begin in late February and will take about six months.
“This will give a better chance for the trees to be healthy,” he said.
In some cases, planting areas will be extended into loading zones to get trees out from under awnings.
BIKE RACKS: DDD officials also announced a grant award that will be used to install 71 bike racks across downtown. Whitney Cooper, development project director, said the grant comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.
The racks will be installed during the first quarter of 2015. J.T. Sukits, a transportation alternatives coordinator with the Capital Region Planning Commission, which jointly applied for the grant with the DDD, said each rack will cost about $285 plus $90 to install.
DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer bid farewell to three longtime commissioners who are leaving the board due to term limits. Norman Chenevert, Derrell Cohoon and Chris Nichols all served as chairmen of the commission during their time on the board.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.