BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Downtown Baton Rouge has changed dramatically over the last decade, and now local leaders say it's on the brink of another new era. A number of new developments will forever alter the fabric of Third Street.
"What we're seeing is unprecedented on Third Street. I've got nine different private development projects underway," said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District. "I can't think of another time in my tenure where we've had so much development that's underway."
Construction crews have begun work on the old Capital One building. It will soon be home to a Matherne's supermarket and 65 apartments. One block up another 92 apartments will go into the old Commerce Building, meaning a lot more folks will soon call Third Street home. People like native Baton Rougean Kerry Denny.
"We just love Baton Rouge, and it's about to take off," he said.
He converted a Third Street attic into a second home, and rented the space below to new restaurant Cordon Rouge.
"I had the sign up about two weeks, and it was under construction so you couldn't even really see it, and I did get a lot of calls and I rented it pretty quick," Denny said.
To the left of his building is a new bar in the works from the folks behind Huey's, and to the right a new restaurant and bar concept from the owners of Uncle Earl's. Those are just two of at least six new developments in the 300 block of Third. The newly-opened Triumph Kitchen occupies one side of De La Ronde Hall, and moving in on the other side is Ruffino's. The space will house the company's corporate offices along with a new catering facility.
"A lot of people wanted me to put a restaurant here. That could be in the works in the future, but for now Ruffino's Catering at De La Ronde Hall just made sense for us," said co-owner Ruffin Rodrigue. "I call it the 50 yard line of downtown Baton Rouge, ya know right by the Coca-Cola sign and my buddy Todd Graves' new Raising Cane's."
Construction there is also underway, and sitting atop the new Cane's is that iconic Coca-Cola sign. The rare porcelain piece will soon come back to life, and Rhorer said that will symbolize the rebirth of the historic street.
"It's caught the attention of a lot of other cities, and the successful public and private partnerships that have been put together to make big things happen in our city, and that really is a testament to the people here," Rhorer said. "Certainly I think that the stability and predictability about what's happening Downtown, some of the major announcements and investments, the IBM project under construction."
He's also excited about plans for another Third Street landmark.
"The old State Office Building, which is basically the first skyscraper Downtown, has been bought by Mike Wampold and he's looking at either a hotel or residential as far as a development there."