Group of young businessmen working to restore historic Baton Rouge landmark
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Hotel Lincoln, built in the 1950′s is a historic landmark in Baton Rouge where musical legends like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and many others stayed while visiting the capital city. Now, it just an abandoned building, like so many other sites near south Baton Rouge.
”We had a lot of black flight to the suburbs, and it really drained a lot of our neighborhoods of property owners and business owners. People took their houses and their businesses with them,” said Anthony Kimble, owner of Kimble Properties.
Anthony Kimble was raised in Baton Rouge. He is with a team of young businesses men working to revitalize parts of the city, which were once thriving black communities.
”I was grateful growing up to see both sides of the tracks you know. When my mom [and I], we first moved to Baton Rouge, we lived on 38th and Chippewa. And by the time I was in high school, we were living off Siegen Lane,” said Kimble. “You really see the investments that has been made literally by the city and there has not been much of an investment in these areas and over time they’ve just continued to be drained of the resources and you know the people that can make a difference in the neighborhood.”
Kimble’s efforts play a key role in an initiative called Buy Back Baton Rouge.
“For us it was just a chance to you know, really practice group economics and bring resources back into the community like this that has been historically de-invested over the last 30 or 40 years,” said Kimble.
With the help of online crowdfunding, the young entrepreneurs have raised nearly $4 million, which will be re-invested into an underserved part of town.
”We get to create something that everybody gets to benefit from, not only the investors but the people who live here and the people who work here and the people who grow up here. Especially the youth,” said Jullien Gordon creator of The Multifamily Movement.
Gordon says his team is hopeful they can help raise the property value for homeowners who have lived in this area for decades. The group is currently working on six projects that will be a mix of commercial space and housing, but Gordon says making money is not their end goal.
”We need people to know the skill set because this is a valuable set that will lead to more ownership, especially black ownership, and help us close that gap, the wealth Gap that has occurred all across this country,” said Gordon.
Their office space located on 14th St. is covered with murals of the past present and future of black history. It has become a center where folks in the community can visit and learn about re-investing into their neighborhoods.
”This is actually black history in real-time, right here and right now. Black history is not a month just to celebrate the past, but we believe that we are making black history happen right here and right now,” said Gordon.
The team says they plan to start renovations at the Lincoln Hotel in just a couple of months they plan to restore the property by turning it into multi-family housing with ground-floor retail tenants.
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