The owners of the Mid City Tower office building on Florida Boulevard filed for bankruptcy protection last week in what they said was an attempt to refinance the property and attract new investors.
Mid City Tower LLC made the Chapter 11 reorganization filing in federal bankruptcy court in Baton Rouge. According to court documents, the corporation estimated its assets at between $1 million and $10 million, with liabilities estimated between $1 million and $10 million.
The documents said the two largest unsecured creditors are Dr. Bobby Z. Joseph, a Michigan allergy specialist, who has a claim of $50,000, and Ann Simmers of Denham Springs, who has a claim of $35,000. Joseph and Simmers each own a quarter stake in Mid City Tower LLC. Mid City College, the largest tenant in the building and a technical school Simmers is involved with, has a claim of $30,000.
Matthew Thomas, the manager for Mid City Tower, said the hope of the bankruptcy filing is to get new financing and investors for the property.
“We’re hoping this lets us come back better and stronger and gives us a little bit of breathing room,” Thomas said.
Mid City Tower LLC bought the 14-story building at 5700 Florida Blvd. in June 2013 for $1.2 million. Right after that, it renamed the 50-year-old building, which had been known as the Republic Tower, then as the Dean Tower.
Simmers moved her court reporting school into the building and renamed it Mid City College. Other tenants include a driving school, a mortgage company and various professional offices.
About half of the 86,000-square-foot building is occupied, Thomas said.
“When we first got the building, the rent rules were not as strong as we thought they were, so we had to rebuild,” he said. “We want to plan well so we can move forward.”
The plan is to try to attract more businesses to Mid City Tower. There’s talk about developing the top two or three floors as condominiums to take advantage of the view they offer of downtown Baton Rouge. Other possibilities include bringing in a restaurant for the ground floor and turning the top level into a banquet space.
“We’re also hoping for someone to take over a whole floor with a call center or a co-working space,” Thomas said. “That would be a good thing.”