BREC is looking to acquire 2.5 to 3 acres of land near Spanish Town Park as a new home for the Sports Academy.
Ted Jack, BREC assistant superintendent, told Downtown Development District commissioners Tuesday that the Sports Academy is running out of space in the city-parish Department of Public Works complex at 1002 Laurel St.
The Sports Academy allows children and teens to work on their basketball skills. Over the years, the program has nurtured a number of children who went on to play basketball in college and the NBA, including former LSU stars Glen Davis, Tyrus Thomas and Tasmin Mitchell.
BREC doesn’t want to move the Sports Academy too far from its current location, so the improved Spanish Town Park would be an ideal spot. There’s also the possibility of acquiring additional land across the street from the park, which would allow BREC to tie the facility into the downtown greenway, now under construction, and Memorial Stadium.
It will cost $7.5 million alone to build a new facility for the Sports Academy; land costs would be extra, Jack said.
There’s no timetable for the move. BREC has reached out to the owner of the land, who indicated an interest in selling. “It’s very early in the process,” Jack said.
In other business:
STREETCAR MEETING: A public meeting to discuss the proposed streetcar line connecting downtown and LSU will be held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Baton Rouge River Center in meeting rooms 9 and 10. Mayor-President Kip Holden will give a brief presentation on the streetcar line at 6 p.m.
Rannah Gray, a local consultant who is working with HNTB, a Virginia-based engineering firm on the streetcar project, said the plan is to create a modern system that runs along a fixed rail. The streetcars wouldn’t be like the network in New Orleans, which is primarily meant for tourists, Gray said. The Baton Rouge tram would allow people to move to points such as downtown, the Water Campus, LSU and State Capitol without getting in their cars, while promoting redevelopment in Old South Baton Rouge.
The cost of a 7.38-mile streetcar line running from the State Capitol to Tiger Stadium has been pegged at about $100 million. HNTB staffers have said federal transit officials see the downtown streetcar line as a “showcase project” that could be a model for other medium-sized cities.
BARBER SHOP: It was also announced that Gaudet Bros., a Government Street barber shop, would open a location in the Commerce Building, which is being redeveloped. Gaudet Bros. will open in the second quarter, around the same time the Commerce Building will open. The barber shop will take up about 700 square feet in the mixed-use building at Laurel and Third streets. The Commerce Building will also include a new location for the Magpie Cafe and 93 apartments.
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