The Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Commercial Properties Realty Trust are moving to the top floor of the new downtown riverfront building that houses IBM.
BRAF and CPRT, which develops and manages real estate for the foundation, plan to sell their offices at Fourth and Laurel streets. The 19,376-square-foot building, which was completed in 2003, has an asking price of $4.08 million.
The move to the larger location — roughly twice the usable space of the current offices — is set for November. BRAF, Commercial Properties and their combined staff of nearly 50 people will split the 23,000-square-foot space on the ninth floor of the IBM building.
IBM moved into the building in May and takes up the fourth through seventh floors. Raising Cane’s and the New Orleans-based law firm Fishman Haygood will take up the eighth floor of the IBM building.
The IBM Building takes up the block bordered by North, Lafayette and Main streets and River Road. The property was once the site for The Advocate.
Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate has the listing for the BRAF building. In marketing materials listed on the company’s website, Saurage speaks about the “open office environment” on the first two floors and the third floor, which is set up for group meetings but could be reconfigured for other uses.
BRAF demolished the old Baton Rouge Title Co. building at Fourth and Laurel streets in the early 2000s to construct its offices. But the organization quickly ran out of space, as it expanded quicker than anticipated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. At one point in 2006, BRAF and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber considered constructing a mixed-use office building at the old Advocate site now occupied by IBM.
Brannon Pesnell, who tracks the Baton Rouge office market, said the BRAF building is “extremely attractive” and the property will draw “a significant amount of interest” from a wide variety of tenants. “They’ve got some open floor plan areas that would be great for any kind of creative business,” said Pesnell, executive vice president of Beau Box Real Estate. “And it could be converted into professional office space, as well.”
There’s not a whole lot of office space downtown. At a presentation during the Trends in Real Estate seminar this spring, Pesnell noted the occupancy rate for Class A space like that in the BRAF building was 92 percent. And the average rental rate for prime downtown office space was $23.29 a square foot — the most expensive in the city.
“People are always looking to buy downtown,” Pesnell said. “They’ll get a lot of looks for sure.”
One of those looks may come from BRAC, which has long been looking to replace its dated Laurel Street offices. The economic development organization currently has its staff split across two buildings.
“BRAF vacating its beautiful building presents an interesting possibility that we’re exploring,” said Ansley Zehnder, a spokeswoman for BRAC. ”Discussions are preliminary.”