High tech office park planned for 8-acre site

A group of investors led by Mo Vij, the founder of local IT company General Informatics, has acquired an 8.5-acre tract of vacant land at the intersection of Highland Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard for $3.6 million, with plans to develop an office and commercial complex on the site that will be modeled after the campus-style settings of high-tech giants like Microsoft and Apple.

The new development will be called @Highland, and it will include a 45,000-square-foot, three-story office building that will front on Highland and be the new headquarters for General Informatics, which has been located in LSU’s Louisiana Business and Technology Center since its founding in the early 2000s. Vacant space fronting on Bluebonnet will be available for future development and could include office or light retail.

Vij, whose partners in the project include several local and out-of-state investors, says his company has outgrown its offices in the LSU business incubator and that he wants to develop a new headquarters site that is suitable for his growing workforce and also in keeping with the lushly landscaped, creative workspaces of high-tech companies in the Pacific Northwest.

“We want to have an office that reflects our ambitions,” Vij says. “We also think it will help with the acquisition of talent. A lot of guys end up moving out of state so we want to create something more attractive to our employees.”

To that end, @Highland will feature a sleek, contemporary office building constructed around several standing Live Oak trees on the site and will back up to the 1,000-acre Bluebonnet Swamp. New Orleans-based Eskew Dumez Ripple Architects, which designed the Shaw Center and Lamar Corporate Offices, has been retained to design the site.

“This promises to be a bold architectural statement integrating natural features with architecture,” says George Kurz of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate, who represented the sellers in the transaction and will market the lots and building development for @Highland. “It’s really different than anything else in Baton Rouge.”

@Highland LLC acquired the property from Metrailer HB LLC and the estate of Charles Metrailer in a deal that closed Monday.

General Informatics is a technology services company that provides IT services to small businesses. The company also develops database management software that is used by parish governments throughout the state. The Planning Commission has already approved plans for the site. Vij hopes to begin construction within the next 18 months.

– Stephanie Riegel,
Greater Baton Rouge Business Report