SOLD! Developer to transform two historic properties into modern spaces

Developer transforming downtown property on Julia Street

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two historic properties located in the heart of the city have been purchased by Anthony Kimble and he sees a bright future for the previously neglected landscape.

“For years, there have been a lot of different plans for that area proposed from a lot of different groups. It’s really time for us to execute these plans,” he said.

Kimble is already invested in the Mid City/Downtown East area with partnership stake in the Electric Depot and the Lincoln Hotel.

“We should be submitting for permitting before the end of the month,” Kimble said about the Lincoln Hotel project. “We hope to start construction in the next 60-75 days.”

The first of the two new properties Kimble acquired is located across the street and up a block from the Lincoln. It too has a history as a hotel.

The Valley House is located less across the street from the Electric Depot.
The Valley House is located less across the street from the Electric Depot. (Source: WAFB)

Located just a stone’s throw away from the railroad track, the property known as the Valley House Hotel began its operation more than 100 years ago. The building was badly damaged by a major fire in 1922.

The business that spent the most number of years in that location was 688 Auto Parts. If you look closely you can see the outline of the old sign that used to adorn the Government Street facade.

“We need to see how some of these changes we’re experiencing will really impact the economy locally and nationally,” he said about the future of the property. “And we’re going to need to look at some things as far as what’s needed in the community.”

Along with the building, Kimble purchased the adjacent land. All that remains of the former businesses that occupied those buildings is a slab of concrete, some remnants of the old tile floor, and a basement.

“It was full of water,” Kimble said with a laugh when asked what was in the basement.

Other than the water, Kimble said the properties have been well-maintained and cared for by the previous owner David Applegate.

“He did most of the work himself,” Kimble said. “All of those metal grates on the outside of the windows and doors, he made those himself. They’re really impressive.”

Kimble hopes to incorporate some of Applegate’s work in the new construction, which should begin at the second property before the end of the year.

The Pearl Beer building is located at 1419 Julia Street.
The Pearl Beer building is located at 1419 Julia Street. (Source: Samantha Morgan)

“It was formerly the Pearl Beer building,” said Carmen Austin, real estate agent/broker at Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, LLC. “It was operated at the time by Justin Wilson.”

Wilson is best-known for his Cajun-inspired cookbooks. He started distributing Pearl Beer in Baton Rouge in the 60s. The only thing left of that business, and the beer, is the faded lettering on the building located next to the railroad track on Julia Street.

“His plan for Julia Street is to convert it to multi-family lofts with a lot of cool architectural elements of the building,” Austin said.

Kimble says keeping housing affordable will be his priority.

“Coming out of this COVID-19 situation, you’re going to see people potentially lose their homes, so I think that we’re going to keep the quality housing but make sure it’s affordable,” he said. “The housing gap is going to continue to grow.”

By this time next year, Kimble hopes to be nearing completion of the Julia Street project.

“I think what Anthony is going to do is exciting and is the first for many things we have in the works for the area,” Austin said. “I think it’s just the beginning.”

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.