Water Campus up and running with first tenant on site, second tenant soon to follow

Sep 30, 2016

Baton Rouge, La. — Nearly three years after it was announced, The Water Campus is beginning to take shape. In early August, the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority moved into its newly completed building on the 27.6-acre riverfront research park.

A second building on the campus that will house a 90-by-120 foot physical model of the lower Mississippi River for LSU is also nearing completion, and researchers are beginning to assemble its components—including 200 computerized, foam panels that will simulate the movement of the river. The model will be a key tool for researchers and is expected to be complete by the end of the year along with public exhibition and outreach space, says Clinton Wilson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at LSU.

A third building on the site of the old City Dock is currently under construction. When completed next year, it will house The Water Institute of the Gulf, an independent think tank that does research for the CPRA.

The Water Campus is the brainchild of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which unveiled the plan in late 2013 in partnership with the state, LSU, the city-parish and The Water Institute. The idea behind the ambitious project is to develop a research park that will attract world-class scientists and engineers in the field of water and coastal studies, while also revitalizing the Nicholson Drive corridor between downtown and LSU.

Though only three buildings are underway or completed, several others are in the planning stages, and Commercial Properties Realty Trust is actively negotiating leases, according to Commercial Properties spokeswoman Tina Rance. Commercial Properties is the for-profit real estate company of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

The long-term plan for The Water Campus is to grow organically, attracting companies and researchers from out of state. So far, the first two tenants—the CPRA and The Water Institute—are local entities relocating to from existing downtown office towers. The CPRA had been located in the Riverside North Tower. The Water Institute will relocate from its existing offices in One American Place when its new building is completed next year.