River House

The developers of River House, a mixed-use development on Nicholson Drive between LSU and downtown, want to convert a 34,000 square foot building that had been marketed for office space, into apartments.

Marc Blumberg, the Atlanta developer who built River House, said the plan is to turn the building at 1480 Nicholson Drive into 42 loft-style apartments with high ceilings. The office building was completed in 2017, but it has remained empty.

The developers of River House, a mixed-use development on Nicholson Drive between LSU and downtown, want to convert into apartments a 34,000-square-foot building that had been marketed for office space.

Marc Blumberg, the Atlanta developer who built River House, said the plan is to turn the building at 1480 Nicholson Drive into 42 loft-style apartments with high ceilings. The office building was completed in 2017, but it has remained empty.

“The demand was softer than we expected,” he said. “We felt that there was a demand to put apartments there.”

The River House development already has a 224-unit apartment complex on-site, which opened in spring 2017. Occupancy rates in the complex have remained in the mid-90% range, Blumberg said.

It won’t take much work to convert the office building into residences because it was only the shell of the building was constructed.

Apartment rents at River House range from $999 to $1,399 a month. The new units will be in the same range, Blumberg said. “The only real difference is that these units will include the best ideas of 2020 and 2021,” he said.

The East Baton Rouge Planning Commission is set to consider the rezoning of the building at its March 16 meeting. If the item is approved, Blumberg said interior construction would start almost immediately. The goal would be to open the additional apartments by the end of the year, he said.

River House was built at the site of the old Prince Murat Hotel. Blumberg started talking about plans for the mixed-use development in 2003 and it was originally pegged as condominiums for LSU students. The project was delayed by the national recession and tightening lending standards. When ground was finally broken on the River House in summer 2015, Blumberg worked to capitalize off its proximity to the Water Campus, promoting the development as being suited for the young professionals who would work there.

Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.