LSU narrows development of Nicholson Gateway Project to five firms on site that includes old Alex Box Stadium _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU fans tailgate near the intersection of Nicholson and Skip Bertman in preparation of the NCAA Division I Baseball Super Regional between LSU and UL-Lafayette in on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La.

Five firms are in the running to develop a 28-acre stretch of property along Nicholson Drive that includes the old Alex Box Stadium site.

The LSU Property Foundation said Wednesday the firms have to submit their proposals for the land between West Chimes Street and Skip Bertman Drive by Nov. 2.

The Nicholson Gateway Project aims to turn what has traditionally been the back of campus into a new commercial and residential district like the North Gates or South Gates.

LSU also announced Wednesday that it is in contract negotiations with Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ to create a master plan for future development of the LSU campus. NBBJ would update the 2003 master plan, creating a planning roadmap for the next decade and beyond. The update is epxected to take 18 months to two years to complete. NBBJ has been involved in several Louisiana projects, including design of the new University Medical Center and the VA hospital in New Orleans.

The finalists for the Nicholson Gateway Project are:

  • American Campus Communities, of Austin, Texas, which owns and manages five student apartment complexes in Louisiana. Its properties include Burbank Commons, The Cottages of Baton Rouge, U Club Cottages and University Crescent, all near LSU, and Ponchartrain Hall, on the campus of the University of New Orleans.
  • Capstone Development Partners, of Birmingham, Alabama, which worked with Southeastern Louisiana University from 2000 to 2006 to build and develop more than 2,300 beds of on-campus student housing.
  • Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, which is a division of Balfour Beatty, a British-based international infrastructure firm. The company has built or developed 10 residence halls and student apartment complexes at universities across the U.S., including developments at Texas A&M, the University of Iowa and the University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Corvias Campus Living, which is a division of the Corvias Group of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. It manages housing for colleges and the military. Corvias has partnered with the University System of Georgia to develop, build, renovate, manage and maintain student housing at nine campuses across the state for the next 65 years.
  • RISE Real Estate, of Valdosta, Georgia, which has several Louisiana properties in its portfolio, including dormitories at Southern University, Grambling State University, McNeese State University and Southern University at Shreveport, along with Baker & Huger Halls, Randolph & Harris Halls and the Rose Garden Community at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

During the summer, the LSU Property Foundation sent out a request for proposals to develop the LSU site. Ten firms responded to the request, and the foundation, along with its adviser, Brailsford & Dunlavey/CSRS, narrowed the number down to five.

The winning firm will participate in a public-private partnership to develop the project.

LSU officials said the Nicholson Gateway will include about 1,260 apartment-style beds, 410 suite-style beds, study areas, meeting space, restaurants and 30,000 to 50,000 square feet of retail space designed to serve residents, campus visitors, faculty and staff.

“The Nicholson Gateway project will revitalize the Nicholson Corridor while substantially enhancing the student experience at LSU. We were delighted with the quality of the responses to the RFQ, and we’re looking forward to evaluating the responses as we work to select an outstanding partner for this exciting project,” said Rob Stuart, chairman of the project committee.

Redeveloping the old Alex Box site has been in the works since the LSU baseball stadium closed in 2008. Over the years, there have been discussions about building all sorts of mixed-use projects on the prime piece of real estate, including a hotel and office space.

LSU officials are working with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and city officials to tie the Nicholson Gateway with other developments along the corridor connecting the university and downtown.

This includes the Water Campus that is being built on the old municipal docks, the River House apartment and retail complex under construction at the site of the old Prince Murat Hotel and the proposed high-capacity transit line connecting the State Capitol to Tiger Stadium.