American Dirt

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About American Dirt

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    Baton Rouge
  1. American Dirt

    Green Light Plan

    Good points, cajun. I wonder (as someone else pointed out in a blog comment) if dyed concrete cut into small pieces would still suffer some of the same problems as brick pavers over time, with the expanding and contracting of the pavement. At any rate, I suspect some of the alternatives to brick would be cheaper, and they very well might be safer.
  2. American Dirt

    Perkins Road Overpass Corridor

    I noticed this too, though only after I had already written the blog. I can only think that the reason they didn't plant oak trees there is because their shallow, broad root systems will soon be too big to fit in a median that narrow. But that shouldn't stop them from using some smaller street trees.
  3. American Dirt

    Perkins Road Overpass Corridor

    Hmmm, I just posted on the Green Light plan, but it looks like this one is more relevant. It's good to know how much the activity has expanded along Perkins in the past six months or so (quite a bit right before I moved here). What are people's thoughts with the design of the intersection and the brick sidewalks? I'm kind of surprised by some of the design elements they included, particularly in the sidewalks--which seems to use a design scheme that would have been much more popular years ago.
  4. American Dirt

    Green Light Plan

    Is anything new percolating at the Acadian Thwy/Perkins Road intersection? I know that the Green Light Plan is a major factor for the construction there, since they're improving the intersection. But the replacement for the old Wal-Mart has not really materialized into anything, has it. And it looks like the repair of the fire-damaged portion of the Acadian-Perkins Plaza will be on hold until something more definitive takes place across the street. I blogged about this recently, particularly in regards to the brick sidewalks being placed there. I think it's interesting that they decided to use brick here and virtually nowhere else. Did a Southdowns Neighborhood Association have a say in this? It looks nice, but there's an increasing trend in shifting away from brick sidewalks because of the hefty maintenance costs and the considerably higher tripping hazard they pose when they deteriorate. I also noticed that at least one of the curb cuts on this brick sidewalk isn't ramped, so it is fundamentally not handicapped accessible. Very surprising. What are people's thoughts on the appearance and overall functional goals of this intersection?
  5. American Dirt

    Baton Rouge Coffee House

    Speaking of movie theaters, has there been any initiative to try to find a tenant for--or to redevelop--the old Tinseltown? It has always seemed like such an isolated location, as though the builders were anticipating that further development would come out to "meet" it, but it never did.
  6. American Dirt

    Baton Rouge Growth and Development

    I'm curious to hear from people who have lived here much longer than I have what the rationale is behind yet another interchange. Pecue Road remains by and large a rural collector street at this point, and though development may eventually stretch so far that it needs to be upgraded, I still question whether another interchange is necessary. Baton Rouge has far more interchanges on I-10 and I-110 than most cities of its size; parts of I-110 almost feels like Chicago, where there's an exit every 1/8th of a mile or so, many of which seem attractive from an accessibility standpoint but do nothing to help the safety and flow of vehicles during peak hours. I understand that the city has surged in growth in recent years, but how do taxpayers feel about having so many exits, on top of growing consideration for a beltway or loop highway? Any thoughts from others on this forum? I'm curious to hear from people who have lived here much longer than I have what the rationale is behind yet another interchange. Pecue Road remains by and large a rural collector street at this point, and though development may eventually stretch so far that it needs to be upgraded, I still question whether another interchange is necessary. Baton Rouge has far more interchanges on I-10 and I-110 than most cities of its size; parts of I-110 almost feels like Chicago, where there's an exit every 1/8th of a mile or so, many of which seem attractive from an accessibility standpoint but do nothing to help the safety and flow of vehicles during peak hours. I understand that the city has surged in growth in recent years, but how do taxpayers feel about having so many exits, on top of growing consideration for a beltway or loop highway? Any thoughts from others on this forum? Sorry about the double-message in the above thread! Technical issues made me think the post didn't make it through the first time around.
  7. American Dirt

    The Grove

    Probably all the better not to include retail...does the retail in TNDs ever really succeed? Usually the costs are too high for anything but chains, and yet chains also typically want better streetside visibility. The result are storefronts that are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Also, the scale of retail in TNDs never quite becomes a destination for outsiders, and yet the neighborhood itself isn't big enough to support the retail on its own. Perhaps it's just a matter of the right design elements, but I'd say it probably is a wise decision to back off the retail. TOO TOO much in that area already--and a whole lot more just down the road on Siegen. Did anyone else notice that quite a few of the subdivisions near Perkins Rowe/Mall of Louisiana really aren't that economically healthy? I hope I'm not insulting anyone who lives around here, because the housing is attractive and well built, but it does look like the neighborhoods have fallen out of favor. I'm thinking specifically of the area on Perkins just northwest of Perkins Rowe, with subdivisions off of Hyacinth with quite a few bars on windows--and then on the other side (north side I guess?) between Perkins and Anselmo, where at least a few of the homes are clearly vacant and have negligent realtors who have not maintained them. Really unfortunate, but I just thought this was interesting, in light of the fact that two of the premier shopping destinations in BR are still not helping some of the neighborhoods nearby.
  8. American Dirt

    Old EBRATS Site

    This building would take some heavy surgery to be usable as either a hotel or multifamily residential (apartment or condo). The fenestration just doesn't make it desirable for too many other uses; it probably wasn't ideal even as a school. I'd say the chances are strong that this will be razed. Now if it does become a parking garage, is there a plan to keep the building envelope and gut the thing? If so, they might be able to pull off first floor retail, though it will probably be hard to attract tenants--that side of North Boulevard is sort of a dead zone for storefronts at this point.
  9. American Dirt

    Perkins Rowe

    I can't see the property manager trying to attract too many local tenants to this--they just don't have the drawing power that national chains would, such as Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie. If we start seeing more than, say, one-third of the tenants are local, consider Perkins Rowe to be officially in serious trouble. This Business Report article reveals how many concessions Balow is having to make in order to scramble out of the Bad PR hole. No doubt he is taking a major hit by adding all these incentives to get people to lease there. Now if Perkins Rowe has to start planning special events and gatherings to accommodate mall walkers (not likely of course in the summer), you know the place is past the point of no return...
  10. American Dirt

    Rouzan TND

    Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good...right? I know much less about this development than most of you, but I'm trying to play catch up and to me it's a marvel that it has made it past the phalanx of NIMBYs this far. When I first heard about Rouzan, I figured it would go at the vast stretch of vacancy at Perkins and Acadian Thruway (what is going there anyway)? The fact is, if Smart Growth were really achieving what it aimed it would probably be anti-democratic, because the means to that end involve so many incursions on the American sacred cow of property rights. Making the city walkable will hardly be achieved by Perkins Rowe and Rouzan alone, but at least it will whet the appetite for this sort of street configuration, thereby ideally encouraging people to buy into it incrementally as it becomes more mainstream. Keep in mind River Ridge in Lafayette is really just an upscale medium density community, which is quite an anomaly in the South since most upscale developments rest in huge lots. It's walkable on its own terms though the retail component is not big enough to meet the needs of River Ridge residents, nor is it a large enough draw to attract sufficient visitors from outside the development. But the idea of River Ridge is predicated on a community that challenges notions of prosperity equating to insularity. That in itself is to be admired. In an ideal world, Rouzan would probably more suited to the urban prairie east of Spanish Town on the other side of I-110. And ideally, the configuration there would be a main street of retail, perhaps on Spanish Town Road or Main Street, with higher density residential close by, and lower density double shotguns a few blocks further from the main corridor. Maybe someday something like that will happen, even if developers currently have a different vision for that project. As much as I'd love to see this happen in the older neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, it's hard to find a big enough contingent willing to buy into that lifestyle in an area with a reputation for crime (and probably even harder to find a bank willing to finance that lifestyle).
  11. American Dirt

    Northgate

    Any renderings available of the College Row at Northgate project? From the looks of things right now, it appears to be a pretty conventional CVS, but I could stand corrected.
  12. American Dirt

    Baton Rouge Growth and Development

    Thanks for the comments on my Cortana Mall blog post everybody. I agree with you regarding brick pavers--they often prove a tripping hazard when the surface becomes uneven. A brick pattern has a lot more interstices than concrete slabs (the conventional sidewalk paving material), resulting in a lot more opportunities for displacement of bricks and all the nasty problems that result. Also horrible for wheelchairs, and the require a lot more maintenance. If they want an "upscale" look at Perkins and Acadian/Stafford, the best solution would be either dyed concrete as you recommend (perhaps asphalt is easier to dye?), or concrete with brick accents at the margins. To me this is one of the most critical intersections in all of Baton Rouge--I hope it is undergoing a great deal of scrutiny, because getting this high profile area right in terms of development will likely yield a stronger return on investment than any other location I can think of.
  13. American Dirt

    Baton Rouge Growth and Development

    This may not seem like a significant development, but it has to be great news for the Cortana area. It shows that a potentially large investor hasn't given up in that part of the city. I recently blogged about Cortana and took pictures of the surest signs of "mall rot". I hate to be a cynic, so perhaps Cortana is not past the point of no return, but even if it dies, there are still plenty of viable neighborhoods nearby. It would be a shame to see even more of the retail energy shift ever further to the southeast of Baton Rogue, skewing the growth patterns there. A job growth of 35 may be slight, but at least it hopes to make up for the hemorrhage of jobs from the dying mall, which no doubt employs less than half of what it did during its heyday. If anyone has more information on Orion Instruments beyond this brief article, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks.
  14. American Dirt

    Perkins Rowe

    Hey folks. I was directed over here from someone at Skyscraperpage. I recently moved to the BR area and was really taken by this project's blend of the ridiculous and sublime. The last time I spent any extensive time in BR (late '05 and early '06) it only existed on paper and most of Baton Rouge was still reeling from the arrival of so many Katrina evacuees. So now the first phase is complete, and many of the existing tenants seem to be doing well. The problem is: there don't seem to be very many existing tenants. Perkins Rowe looks just barely half occupied, and though there are several lucrative "Coming Soon" signs, some friends have told me that those signs have been up for months. And it also appears than one less successful restaurant (Fish City Grill) has already closed. Based on the discussions here, the Camellia Grill is either stalled or has pulled out. Considering all the lawsuits and the way this development opened at the dawn of one of the worst market cycles, is Perkins Rowe in serious trouble? I haven't read anything new about the project for the last six months, so I'd be very interested in what some of you who have been following it more closely would have to say. Some of my questions: What happened to Camellia Grill or Johnny Rockets? Any word on the construction quality of the residential units? What about the amenities or special features offered to condo owners? I read somewhere the people are paying condo fees for "shared facilities" that have yet to open, and are quite vexed about it. Did any tenants from the Mall of Louisiana terminate their lease so they could open at Perkins Rowe? I'd love to hear what others are saying about this, and what its future appears to be as the economy is slowly improving.