News roundup: Dantin and Bruce buy 14 Country Club Place lots for $1.55M …


DECEMBER 21, 2017

Done deal: Developers Brian Dantin and Ross Bruce have purchased 14 townhome lots in Country Club Place Residences on Brentwood Drive near Jefferson Highway for $1.55 million. The seller is Brentwood Development Company, a limited liability company managed by The Powell Group. Dantin and Bruce have converted the properties into nine single-family, detached lots and are offering them for sale. Buyers will be able to select their own homebuilders, Dantin says.

Dantin Bruce constructing new residential project near LSU



OCTOBER 12, 2017


The developers behind LSU area residential complexes such as 333 Lofts and 333 Flats are preparing to break ground on their next project: The Court at East Boyd, which will see six condos go up on East Boyd Drive between Burbank Drive and Highland Road.

The development is expected to be completed next summer, says Brian Dantin of Dantin Bruce Development. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos will measure about 1,000 square feet each, and be priced around $260,000. Two are already under contract, Dantin says.

“It’s a niche development,” he says. “We’ve always seen over the past years that not everyone wants to live in these large mega-complexes.”

Additionally, Dantin Bruce is finishing the last three townhouses at Perkins Lane, a 24-unit development in the Southdowns neighborhood. The project should be complete by the end of the year, Dantin says.

Along with 333 Lofts and 333 Flats, which are both located on East Boyd Drive, Dantin Bruce has developed the Offices at City Farm on Jefferson Highway as well as Valhalla subdivision on Highland Road near the Pecue Lane intersection.

—Alexandria Burris

5 faces to watch: Some of the hottest young real estate developers in the Baton Rouge market.


Brian Dantin and Ross Bruce

Co-owners, Dantin Bruce Development

Signature project: City Farm is an office space with a modern farmhouse concept on Jefferson Highway, adjacent to Whole Foods and Towne Center.

Year started: 2015

Cost: $10.5 million to develop; $13.5 million value.

At 11:30 a.m. on any given weekday, either Brian Dantin or Ross Bruce will receive a text from the other with one simple word: “Lunch?”

The duo has spent the past nine years working together, developing land for their company Dantin Bruce Development. Their industry is fast-paced and competitive and they often find themselves in a Venn diagram of partnership, either making decisions on their own or overlapping to jointly discuss company business.

But by the afternoon, their thoughts turn to food and they head out to one of their favorite Baton Rouge restaurants, often J. Alexander’s, Albasha, New York Bagel Company or BRQ Restaurant.

“Every day is centered around a good lunch,” says the 39-year-old Dantin. “We don’t stop working when we are in the office but lunch is the one time that we can just unwind and relax.”

The duo met through Dantin’s wife and Bruce’s first cousin, Rebekah. Dantin was developing land with other companies while Bruce had just sold an oil field company. While the timing was right and the partnership worked, it was 2008, and the economy was tough.

“Bruce and I started in the worst time for real estate,” says Dantin. “The biggest challenge was financing. When we first got together, the banks stopped lending money to anyone.”

But they persevered, found a great group of anonymous investors and began building their brand.

Dantin Bruce is a turnkey company, meaning they work with their clients from land development, construction and through interior design to finish a residential or commercial project. They have developed City Farm, an office space with a modern farm house concept inspired by real estate Dantin saw in Napa Valley, California, as well as Valhalla, luxury homes with large lots off Highland Road, 333 Flats, a residential community near LSU, and Perkins Lane, a transitional neighborhood development.

Their partnership and ability to walk a client through every aspect of building a home has made them successful.

“Our clients like dealing with just the two of us. We are not a big company,” says Dantin. “They know that these guys can find us the best piece of property, the best builders and the best designers and it’s a seamless approach.”

Adds Bruce, “We have a hands-on approach and pay attention to detail.”

Dantin grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from LSU with a degree in business and marketing. He’s the creative half of the duo, says Bruce, and a strong salesman.

“He brings good looks and charm to the team,” Bruce jokes. “But seriously, Brian knows the market better. He is in front of me making the deals and I’m behind him finishing them up.”

While Dantin seems to always be smiling, Bruce is more stoic and focused on the financial part of the business. A native of the small town of Cut Off, Bruce graduated from Nicholls State University with a degree in finance and accounting.

They both enjoy vacationing at the beaches along Florida’s Highway 30A and spending time with their families.

Dantin and Rebekah have two boys, Charlie, 11, and William, 8, while Bruce and wife, Marsha, have three girls, Alaina, 19, Addison, 16 and Avery, 12.

And they know the success of their business is because they work well together and always stop for lunch.

“I think we both feel extremely blessed to have this partnership,” says Bruce. “We never had a fight or an argument and we support each other. I never thought about doing anything else with anyone else.”

No. 1 on the List: Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Originally published in The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

JUNE 15, 2017

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has the top spot in Business Report’s latest ranking of financial investment firms by the amount of local assets under management.

The wealth management and investment firm, headquartered in New York, holds nearly $5.7 billion in local assets. The firm has grown in recent years, driven by an increase in Baton Rouge-area clients with investments of $250,000 or more.

Earlier this year, Merrill Lynch opened a second Baton Rouge office at 1800 City Farm Drive to accommodate its staff. Donald Minor, the firm’s associate market manager, says Merrill Lynch had reached capacity at its downtown Baton Rouge office, with some leadership team members working out a conference room. The City Farm office, populated with more established advisers, is at 95% capacity, he said, while the firm’s downtown office is 85% occupied.

Annual data Merrill Lynch receives projects the segment of the Baton Rouge market that has $250,000 or more—or those who require more complicated financial solutions—to grow about 12% over a five-year period, with $1 million clients to grow 5% over the same period.

Rounding out the top four spots on the list: Morgan Stanley with $4.3 billion in assets; Raymond James & Associates with $2 billion; Wells Fargo Advisors and GWM Advisors, both with $1.5 billion

See the current issue of Business Report for the full ranking of financial investment firms


Originally published in The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

Alexandria Burris | @allyburris

February 27, 2017

Level Construction and Development LLC has bought 34 vacant lots at Copper Mill in Zachary for roughly $1.7 with plans to build eighth and final filing of the subdivision and golf club.

Represented by founder Todd Waguespack, Level purchased the lots from Cedar Bend LLC, represented by attorney Erik Piazza, and managed by Brian Dantin and Ross Bruce. The deal was filed on Thursday.

The sales price works out to about $49,000 per lot. Waguespack says Level will build 34 homes that will range in price from range from about $300,000 to roughly $400,000.

“It will be similar to the houses that we’re currently building in there,” Waguespack says of the final filing.

Construction will begin within the next 30 days, and the phase is expected to be completed in about two years, Waguespack says.

Last year, Level and DSLD Homes swapped more than 150 lots in a $6.9 million deal. Through EWL Development LLC, Level picked up a total of 65 lots including 12 in the seventh filing of the Copper Mill, which is located off of La. 964.

—Alexandria Burris

Upscale hotel, multifamily developments planned in Baton Rouge Health District

Originally published in The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

Sam Karlin

March 6, 2017

Plans for a new upscale hotel in the burgeoning Baton Rouge Health District are underway, with a group of longtime hotel developers buying two acres of land along Summa Avenue last week.

Ash Patel, whose family business owns and manages four hotels, says construction on the new hotel will begin by the end of the year and be completed by early 2019 if all goes well. The land was purchased through a limited liability company called Summa Lodging, which Ash Patel owns with three other business partners, including Neil Patel, who also runs several hotels throughout the state.

Ash Patel says he envisions a hotel with 140-150 rooms, costing $180 per night. Ash Patel declined to say how much the group purchased the land for and says he cannot yet disclose which flag the hotel will fly. The sale was recorded as $100 “and other good and valuable consideration,” according to sale documents.

He adds that designs are underway and should be finished in the next four months.

“It’s going to go well with the whole Baton Rouge medical area there,” Ash Patel says. “All the other expansions—Bluebonnet, Siegen, Essen—it’s all blown up over the last 10 years.”

DB Midway LLC was the seller. The company is run by developers Brian Dantin and Ross Bruce, who bought 15 acres of land in the area last year for $3.7 million with plans for retail, multifamily and office space developments. The land is located between I-10 and Picardy Avenue.

Dantin says he and Bruce will retain some architectural authority over the hotel’s development. The two currently have an architect crafting plans for the first phase of their mixed-use vision, a high-end multifamily complex with 150 units and 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of retail space at the bottom of the building. Dantin says he hopes to break ground early next year on the project.

Eventually, Dantin says the plan is to develop three to four acres adjacent to the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, which is under construction, into build-to-suit office or medical space, or possibly more apartments.

“It’s really right in the heart of Baton Rouge,” Dantin says. “With the health district getting pushed forward, and having that walkability, we’re really excited about being in this area.”

—Sam Karlin