met bon carre aerial rh 149.JPG (copy)

The Bon Carre Business Center on Florida Boulevard is up for an online auction, five months after a previous attempt to sell the Florida Boulevard property in Baton Rouge.

A California company is once again holding an online auction of the Bon Carré Business Center, five months after attempting to sell the Florida Boulevard property.

Ten-X Commercial said an auction next week for Bon Carré will be held Monday through Wednesday. The minimum bid for the center is $6 million, down from the $12 million minimum that was in place when the first auction was held in early November.

That auction ended with a final bid of $30.5 million, but it was not revealed who made the bid, or if it met the reserve price. The company did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Bon Carré Business Center auction ends with $30.5 million final bid, results 'unofficial'

The center, which has 712,920 rentable square feet on Florida Boulevard, was transferred to its lender in 2018 after the previous owner defaulted on a $41.5 million loan taken out in 2007. The previous owner, a division of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, owed $39.5 million on the principal when it defaulted in December 2017.

Bon Carré lists a 59% occupancy rate, and net operating income of nearly $4.2 million for the 12-month period ending in April. The center's occupancy has fallen from the 90% rate it posted in 2011, and net income peaked at nearly $4.9 million in 2012.

Officials blamed downsizing by long-term tenants for its drop in occupancy. Venyu, AECOM and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana are some of the existing tenants. State Farm left its operations center at Bon Carré at the end of 2018, and laid off 47 workers.

U.S. Bank National Association, the trustee for the Bon Carré lender, acquired the property through a U.S. Marshals Services sale in August.

Bon Carré was transformed from the former Bon Marché mall, which lost retail tenants to Cortana Mall down the road in the 1990s.  

The previous owners put the business center up for sale in 2016, but attracted only one buyer who made an offer that was lower than the amount of the loan. Real estate observers have said the property is attractive in part because of favorable lease rates and because it is located in an Opportunity Zone, a new program that gives tax breaks to investors putting money into poorer areas.

The state Enterprise Zone program expired and raised the previous owners' tax bill, something a representative for the owner cited as a reason for the default.

In the meantime, Beau Box Commercial Real Estate has handled leasing and property management, and the center is expected to continue to operate in its current use while the ownership changes.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.