A $1.34 million federal grant has been awarded to a supporting organization of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation that will go toward the design and engineering of streets, drainage and sewage at the Water Campus.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration, a bureau of the Commerce Department, announced the grant award Tuesday to Community Foundation Realty. The grant will go toward establishing infrastructure of the Water Campus, which is estimated to cost $6.7 million.

The Water Campus, between downtown and LSU, is a 33-acre site that will become a center for private and public research.

Edmund Giering, the attorney for BRAF, said the grants are awarded on a competitive basis. “We are most appreciative of the interest and support of EDA in making this investment in the Water Campus,” he said. “This is not the first step in the process, but it’s an exciting step.”

The first phase of the Water Campus will involve construction of three buildings: the $20 million headquarters for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; the River Modeling Center, which will have a small-scale model of the Mississippi River; and the headquarters for the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Giering said he would be “surprised” if construction doesn’t start on the first two buildings before the end of the year. The state is set to open bids on the River Modeling Center in mid-October. Around the same time, the city-parish Planning Commission is set to vote on rezoning to allow for the construction of CRPA headquarters.

The Water Institute of the Gulf building will be built on the Baton Rouge City Dock, which makes the planning and permitting a little more complicated, Giering said.

BRAF is creating the master plan for the Water Campus.

Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the foundation’s real estate arm, will develop and manage the property.

The Water Campus will have 1.5 million square feet of space on the 33-acre site once it is fully built out and private firms set up shop so they can be close to the CPRA and the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.