The team that is mapping out the redevelopment of a portion of midcity made a brief tour Monday of the former Entergy site on Government Street that is at the core of the 100-acre section.
Andres Duany, who leads Duany Plater-Zyberk, the Miami-based company that was selected last month by the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority to create the plan, said the value of the Entergy site is using it as a transit hub. The land is near the Kansas City Southern rail line, and there has been some discussion about turning the facility into a station for a proposed Baton Rouge to New Orleans passenger railroad.
“You need to look at it as part of a regional concept, so people who live here can get to New Orleans easier,” Duany said.
A study released earlier this year pegged the cost of establishing passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans at $262 million. Most of the money would go toward upgrading existing track for passenger service.
“It’s very difficult to get things done in Louisiana,” Duany said. “Baton Rouge is way ahead of the other cities; they’ve got a lot done downtown. We’ll see if anything has changed after the hurricane.”
Members of the DPZ team — which also include Chenevert Architects of Baton Rouge; Stantec, an engineering firm with Baton Rouge offices; and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a Chicago think-tank that promotes sustainable development in cities — got an update on efforts to clean up the Entergy site.
James Andermann, the RDA’s real estate director, said almost 50 tons of debris will be removed. This includes asbestos and lead paint. By getting a lot of the hazardous material out of the way, Andermann said it will save “a couple of hundred thousand dollars” for the developer that ultimately overhauls the site.
There are 11 buildings on the site, including two brick buildings fronting Government Street that account for 50,000 square feet of space. Andermann said the RDA has gotten demolition quotes as low as $24,000 to flatten the nine remaining buildings on the property.
The RDA said the predevelopment plan, which is being paid for with a $284,000 grant from the State Office of Community Development, will give potential developers of the site a road map for what the RDA wants to see in the area. The area is roughly bordered by the south side of Government Street, North Boulevard, 22nd Street and Interstate 110. The main predevelopment plan is budgeted at $190,000; DPZ submitted a bid of $175,000.
The DPZ team is expected to complete its predevelopment plan by March.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.