BR apartment market absorbing units, more coming _lowres

Rendering provided by Commercial Properties Realty Trust --The view of the planned $55 million IBM complex in dowtown Baton Rouge shows the adjacent residential complex looking from the south.

Over the past eight years, the Baton Rouge apartment market has absorbed nearly 6,900 units, with rents steadily increasing and vacancies holding at about 5.5 percent.

But the market will be put to the test in the next few years with nearly 1,400 new units under construction and almost 1,150 apartments in the planning stages, said Craig Davenport of Cook, Moore & Associates said Thursday at an annual real estate trends seminar.

While the apartment construction is being driven by projected job increases, such as the billions in chemical plant expansions and the new IBM service center downtown, Davenport said there could be problems if the employment doesn’t materialize as projected.

“If the jobs don’t show up, there could be overbuilding,” he said.

Much of the construction activity is taking place downtown, with The Onyx building and the IBM Tower already under construction and plans for units in The Commerce Building, at 440 on Third and at 342 Lafayette St. “Downtown is getting ready to have a revival,” Davenport said.

There isn’t much of a chance of overbuilding downtown. The Onyx and IBM Tower will add 123 units and the planned projects have a total of 174 units. That’s a combined total that’s less than the number of units in some large-scale residential developments, like The District that’s under construction on Perkins Road.

About 700 people are attending the Trends seminar at the BREC Independence Park Theater , which features local experts talking about current and forecast trends in various sectors of the real estate market, including single-family residential, multi-family, office, retail and industrial.