The Gulf States continue to recover from last year's killer hurricane season. JTS Interests is moving ahead with its $300-million, 750,000-square-foot, mixed-use project in its hometown of Baton Rouge, La. Called Perkins Rowe, the property will feature office, residential, retail, entertainment and restaurant components in four- to six-story buildings positioned around the Town Square area.

JTS has been working on the project for years, but cleared a major hurdle in bringing it to life by securing a $170 million construction loan to fund construction of the project's first phase. That piece will include 322,932 square feet of residential space, 373,018 square feet of retail, 137,766 square feet of offices and 2,900 parking spaces. It is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2007. Phase Two will add another 60,000 square feet of retail, 150,000 square feet of office space and 500 to 600 residential units commencing in 2008.

“This was the best commercial corner in the city, very centrally located, and it had some unique zoning that allowed for very dense residential development, in addition to being attractive for retail and office space,” says Clay Peterson, director of development with JTS. “We just knew this had mixed-use written all over it.”

According to Peterson, the retail portion of Perkins Rowe is already 80 percent pre-leased to tenants including Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters, Bally Total Fitness, La Madeleine and Lucky Brand Jeans. Others that have signed on include Fresh Market, which will build a 20,400-square-foot store and Cinemark Theater.

At one point Saks Inc. had signed on to build a Parisian store at the project, but that has been thrown into question now that Saks is in the process of selling that department store chain to Belk Inc.

The office portion of the project is 60 percent pre-leased by Wells Fargo Bank and Echelon Construction. The property will serve the needs of affluent southeast Baton Rouge and is expected to be a regional draw for the rest of Louisiana.

“We're in the Baton Rouge growth corridor and given the post-Katrina situation, there's been a large influx of new residents in the city,” says Peterson.

Baltimore, Md. — based Development Design Group, Inc. is serving as the master architect for the project and KeyBank Real Estate Capital is the lender, providing the $170-million construction loan.