The increasing number of riverboat dockings in Baton Rouge has city-parish officials looking at expanding the city dock to accommodate multiple vessels.
The city of Baton Rouge and the Downtown Development District are soliciting proposals from qualified architectural firms to design a dock expansion. The deadline to submit proposals is Thursday. Three finalists are expected to be selected for the construction project by April 30.
According to the request for proposal, the estimated construction and equipment cost for the expansion is $4.54 million. Plans are to expand the dock so two boats can be accommodated at the same time, along with adding a passenger reception and visitor welcoming facility.
Davis Rhorer, executive director of the DDD, said a dock expansion is needed. This year, riverboats are expected to make 84 stops in Baton Rouge. By 2017 that number is expected go up to more than 100 because Viking River Cruises will open up New Orleans as a home port for its first North American voyages along the Mississippi River.
“They did some improvements a few years ago, with painting it and lighting, but we’re now looking at handling multiple boats,” Rhorer said. By upgrading the docking facilities, Rhorer said Baton Rouge is positioning itself to get some business from Viking River Cruises.
Rhorer said expanding the dock is another “game-changing project along the river corridor” along with the proposed tram along Nicholson Drive that would connect LSU and downtown and the public sculpture that will be installed at an overlook along the Mississippi River to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.
In other business, the DDD announced that Fishman Haygood, a New Orleans law firm, has signed a lease to take up part of the eighth floor of the IBM Building, which is set to open in May. Fishman Haygood opened its Baton Rouge office in February, luring Charles Landry, a high-profile real estate attorney, to head the local operations. Landry said after evaluating all of the options, Fishman Haygood “realized that the IBM building is the best platform for our Baton Rouge office.” The firm is operating out of 8555 United Plaza Blvd.
Fishman Haygood is set to move into the IBM Building by “mid-July,” Landry said. The firm has a seven-year-lease on 9,200 square feet in the building, which Landry said is about 40 percent of the floor.
IBM is set to take up the fourth through the seventh floors of the building, while Fishman Haygood will share the eighth floor with other tenants. The ninth-floor tenants will be announced in the near future, the DDD said.
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