Rabbi Jordan Goldson and Beth Warren chose a downtown apartment for their new life together after they were married in January.
"We wanted to keep it simple," said Goldson, spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Israel since 2009.
"I'm a New Yorker," added Warren, who moved to Baton Rouge in March. "I am used to apartment living."
The couple leased a 1,700-square-foot loft on the eighth floor of a building on a downtown corner. Known for open spaces, high ceilings, concrete floors and exposed support beams, lofts are often found in converted commercial or industrial buildings like the Commerce Building, which was developed as an office building in 1955 by the late Wilbur Marvin, a longtime member of B'nai Israel. It was recently converted into 93 loft apartments.
The newlyweds selected their apartment for the security, open spaces, breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and its size.
"I work from home," said Warren, senior vice president of planning and design for a retail technology company. "I need a large space for work."
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Because they share a car, Goldson and Warren like being close to so much activity. They are regulars at the farmers' market, the Shaw Center for the Arts, downtown restaurants and the area's museums. They love to walk on the levee and explore the local neighborhoods like Spanish Town. He loves to watch the barges working on the river.
"We have a little flavor of urban life," Warren said. "The building is young with lots of professionals."
The apartment opens to a hall off of which are two bedrooms, Warren's office and the master bedroom. The hall leads to the large kitchen/dining room with a private patio balcony on the left. Behind the modern kitchen is the living room, decorated in grey, black and white with pops of color from the couple's art and accessories. It's a mix of mid century, old and new furniture.
"We combined our lives," Warren said. "We have taken things from all of our lives, from the states and countries where we have lived."
Although Warren brought much of the art with her from New York, the couple has collected some colorful local pieces, which balance the neutral backdrop of the natural concrete floors. The spaces are brightened with area rugs used throughout the apartment.
Because Warren lived in apartments for many years, she learned to collect only those things that have real meaning to her, like a sculpture of a brownstone, a wedding gift from friends. It's on display on a marble column from Goldson's grandmother. Another favorite piece is a fruitwood chest that also belonged to his grandmother.
"We are constantly changing things," she said, "but we are decisive. When something new comes in, we have to give up something. We cycle though things, but we don't throw them away. We donate them to people in need."
One of their favorite things about the building is the rooftop patio with a pool, barbecue area and cabana with a television. It's a busy gathering place, especially on the weekends. There are even plans for a rooftop restaurant in the future.
Goldson and Warren hope that downtown will continue to grow, especially with more retail.
"It's not New York, but we think the downtown is ready for it," Goldson said. "A lot is still experimental, but we are hoping more and more people will frequent the life here. We chose downtown because we wanted to be a part of the new emerging community."