Panel Backs Art Market Project (Advocate Article)

BY CHAD CALDER
Advocate business writer
June 21, 2012

The owners of Circa 1857 are looking to add 30 loft apartments, retail and community arts space to the existing arts and antiques market on Government Street across from Park Boulevard.

The project is the second half of Circa owners Danny McGlynn and Dennis Hargroder's Mid-City Redevelopment Project. The first half is the planned renovation of the Darensbourg building across from Westmoreland Shopping Center and improving the streetscape of the block just east of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

Circa's effort got a lift from the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday, when an RDA subcommittee officially recommended the agency allocate $8.1 million in new markets tax credits to the $11.1 million project.

The RDA's full board will consider the request at its meeting next month. If it grants it, the Mid-City Redevelopment Project will get the proceeds from the eventual sale of $8.1 million in credits.

That amount will be less than $8.1 million, and the rest will likely come from $1 million in community development block grant funds through the state and one of two unnamed community development entities that Circa and the RDA are in discussions with, RDA Vice President Mark Goodson said.

"We feel very confident we'll be able to get that," Goodson told the RDA subcommittee's advisory board.

McGlynn told the group that the point of the project at Circa 1857 is to continue to stimulate the arts, culture and retail development by providing apartments for "starving artist" types who could use smaller spaces -- 500 square feet to 1,200 square feet -- to live and work.

He said just over half of the apartments would be restricted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's definition of low income, and that it would be modeled after recent arts-related redevelopment projects in New Orleans.

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