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State, Local Leaders Break Ground On NW Louisiana State Building in Shreveport

Mon November 06, 2023 - Southeast Edition
Shreveport Times & CEG

Architect Christopher W Coe's rendering of the NWLA State Office Building on right and a photo of building taken on Oct. 30, 2023.
Architect Christopher W Coe's rendering of the NWLA State Office Building on right and a photo of building taken on Oct. 30, 2023.

Even though it was a cold and windy fall day, local and state leaders, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, gathered Oct. 30 on the first level of 500 Fannin St. in downtown Shreveport to break ground on what will become the new Northwest Louisiana (NWLA) State Office Building.

The address is more commonly known as the Joe D. Waggonner Building, once home to a number of federal offices in the city,

"I am excited about what this celebration means for downtown Shreveport," said Edwards. "[It is] a recommitment for the state of Louisiana, this city, and this region by repurposing an iconic building."

The proposed structure will replace the old building and adjacent parking garage that was purchased in the spring of 2022 by the state after sitting vacant for more than 20 years.

Christopher Coe, the founder of Shreveport-based COE Architecture International and the design firm behind the project noted, "the important thing about this project is that sometimes we build things that are new, and sometimes we build them in the wrong location or for the wrong reason. This is taking an existing building and repurposing it, which is completely the right thing to do and exactly in the right location. This will be the greatest thing for downtown."

The Waggonner Building was constructed in 1972 and is an eight-story, 155,000-sq.-ft. structure.

According to the Shreveport Times, the old building will be gutted down to its concrete foundation and steel frame before being refashioned into a modern facility.

By employing an aggressive adaptive reuse plan, Louisiana can utilize the Waggonner building's concrete pads and skeletal metal structure to save money while allowing the state to build in a convenient location near the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, Shreveport's Government Plaza, and the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

When complete, the new structure will allow 358 employees to move to the Fannin Street location, along with the potential for other state agencies currently paying commercial lease rates. In addition, it will replace the aging Mary Allen State Office Building on Fairfield Avenue.

"The image of the building was important for us — [we want it to] convey progress," Coe explained. "This is a tough working building for people who do the best for the citizens of Louisiana."

Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, and the Downtown Shreveport Corp., said, "It creates kind of an excitement around it, where we may see more businesses move in to help support everything that's going on in the state building."

Building Phase Needs a Construction Manager

This project is expected to take several years to complete, although contractors are currently in the demolition phase at the Waggonner site, which should be done by next June.

The Phase I demolition includes:

  • The asbestos abatement of all asbestos containing materials on site.
  • Complete exterior and interior demolition of the main building. The only items that will remain will be the floor slabs and the steel structure.
  • The tearing down of the existing parking garage.

Gill Industries in Shreveport is overseeing Phase 1, with Texas-based Lloyd Nabors Demolition working as its subcontractor.

Phase II's renovation will first construct the new parking garage, followed by the NWLA State Office building itself, along with its interior work.

Currently, though, the state is looking for a Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R) for the project's second phase.

Roger Husser, head of the Louisiana Office of Facility Planning and Development, said the state is pursuing certified local Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contractors who are interested in working on the project as a joint venture partner, subcontractor or vendor.

"The value of DBE participation has been greatly enhanced throughout the CM@R [Request for Qualifications, or RFQ], as compared to past CM@R RFQs, inclusive of including value for participation in two of the four criteria that the proposals are scored on," Husser told the Times.

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