The Mercantile offices break ground on Bluebonnet



Dantin Bruce Development has broken ground on The Mercantile, a new garden-style office development on Bluebonnet Boulevard near Jefferson Highway.

The development—a mix of leased and owned properties—will consist of eight buildings over 38,800 square feet. Five of the buildings have been committed to be leased or purchased, according to Ross Bruce, and three of the committed buildings are set to begin construction soon. Office space ranges between 2,500 and 6,000 square feet.

Lease space in the development is still available for rates between $23 and $24 per square foot, according to Bruce.

“For many years, the Bluebonnet corridor has been highly desirable,” Bruce says. “We saw an opportunity to build a modern office development right in heart of Baton Rouge.”

Dantin Bruce Development and Assurance Financial will be among the tenants of the new development.

The development, designed by Ritter Maher Architects, will feature modern farmhouse-style architecture with steel entry doors, exposed wooden beams, natural stone floors, and steel and glass interior finishes. The offices will be similar in style to City Farm on Jefferson Highway, which was also developed by Dantin Bruce Development.

“We’ve been trying to redesign what office parks look like,” says Scott Ritter of Ritter Maher Architects. “We’re changing the dynamic of what Baton Rouge expects from their office.”

Bruce anticipates the first building in The Mercantile to be finished next summer and the rest of the development to be completed by the end of 2019.

Cook: Country Club Place taking off



Dantin Bruce Development has begun to close lots in its acquisition of Country Club Place, which was originally developed by Nanette Noland’s business, Brentwood Development Company.

The original idea was to develop an upscale townhouse community at the corner of Brentwood and Kensington drives, overlooking the Baton Rouge Country Club, and sell them in the $1 million to $1.5 million dollar range. Five of the 25 lots were improved with homes. But the development didn’t catch on and 14 of the remaining lots were purchased by Dantin Bruce for $1.55 million. The purchase price works out to about $111,000 per lot.

“We recognized that the townhouse concept was not viable, so we converted the 14 lots into nine single-family detached lots with about 50 feet of frontage,” says Brian Dantin, adding that converting the lots only required the relocation of some utilities. “The road improvements were already in place and all the lots have rear alley access, so we thought it was an excellent buy given the location.”

The original developer spared no expense, with the development including private parks with architectural features, brick paved streets, road improvements, rear alleys, good quality landscaping, fencing and—of course—gated access. The total investment in the nine lots is around $175,000 per lot.

“We closed one lot and have two under contract,” Dantin says.

Lots overlooking the Baton Rouge Country Club golf course are being marketed for $350,000 and the remaining lots are offered for $275,000. Common area grounds maintenance will continue to be done by Massengale Landscape, and homeowners association dues will maintain for both the townhouses and the new detached lots, so the purchaser will enjoy the low maintenance of a townhouse or condo with the benefit of a single-family residence.

“The development is generating a lot of interest, primarily from folks who want to build a custom home,” Dantin says, adding he expects to sell the remaining six lots soon.

Bluebonnet office sells

Doing business as Ross Investments Properties LLC, Michael Ross has purchased a 2,952-square-foot office at 4220 Bluebonnet Blvd. for $583,000, or $197.50 per square foot. The building serves as the main office of the Dantin Bruce Development empire, which intends to lease the property back from the purchaser for a year.

“We think we will relocate into our new proposed development on Bluebonnet almost directly across the street, which we have named Mercantile Office Park,” says Ross Bruce.

The sale price per square foot is one of the higher ones paid for an existing office on Bluebonnet, and it reflects the higher quality of the building. The deal closed on Jan. 15, and Ross was represented by Robert Pettit with Waters and Pettit Real Estate.

Tom Cook of Cook, Moore and Associates has been an independent real estate appraiser for more than 20 years.