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Apr. 10, 2013

Local Hotel Rebrands; $55M IBM and Residential Complex Being Developed

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Magnuson Hotels, one of the top global hotel chains, has announced six formerly
Wyndham franchised hotels converting to the Magnuson Hotels brand. The properties, among them the Magnuson Hotel Baton Rouge, are just the latest in a recent uptick in Wyndham-to-Magnuson hotel franchise conversions ranging from Tyler, Texas to Lansing, Mich.

Located at 9999 Gwenadelle Dr., The Magnuson Hotel Baton Rouge features amenities such as an outdoor pool, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, meeting facilities and complimentary parking including RVs and trucks.

In other news, technology giant IBM recently announced its intention to establish an 800-job technology hub in downtown Baton Rouge dubbed IBM Services Center. The result of a $55 million public-private partnership, the undertaking includes not only an 800-job technology center, but also a major new riverfront development, as well as computer science-related higher education programs.

The 800 IBM jobs will be created over the next four years and will be joined by 542 new indirect jobs spurred by the development, resulting in a 1,342-permanent-job economic impact for the Capital region. The build-out will also create an estimated 600 construction jobs.

The IBM Services Center will be located in a brand new mixed-use riverfront complex to be developed by Commercial Properties Realty Trust (CPRT), a REIT managing and developing the property holdings in the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF).  The project will comprise an office building housing the IBM center and an 11-story residential building containing 95 river-view apartments, joined by nine separate townhomes.

The project will be developed on the old Advocate newspaper site and is expected to complete the first phase, comprising the office component, by spring 2015. It will be followed by the residential element in the summer of 2016. While construction completes, IBM will lease office space in the Essen Centre office complex.

The project will also receive massive financial support from both state ($14.8 million) and local ($3 million) government, as well as $12.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funds, which will cover the total needed amount of $30.5 million for the construction of the office component. This component will be owned by Wilbur Marvin Foundation (WMF), an affiliate of the BRAF. The residential component will look for funding from private investors but will also be an asset of the same foundation.

Image courtesy of the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District

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