Developer to convert former Rubenstein’s department store into apartments

Project also calls for creation of retail, restaurant and office space
A developer plans to make apartments as well as office, retail and restaurant space out of the...
A developer plans to make apartments as well as office, retail and restaurant space out of the two buildings that once made up Rubenstein's department store in downtown Shreveport.(Source: Jade Myers/KSLA News 12)
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 3:48 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — A developer is making apartments out of two downtown Shreveport buildings where people from throughout the ArkLaTex once shopped.

Isaiah Lee, of Leeson Real Estate Investing Firm, and city officials announced the Rubenstein Project during a news conference Tuesday morning at 517-519 Milam St.

Plans call for the 107-year-old Rubenstein’s building and the 115-year-old Lanford Building to be converted into three dozen apartments accompanied by retail, restaurant and office space.

“It’ll be a true multi-functional use building. We will have between 36 and 40 rentals. Some of them will be short-term rentals, and some of them will be long-term rentals. Class A style with loft apartments,” Lee explained.

“We’re going to have a bistro area and a room that seats about 45 to 50 people for small weddings and gatherings. We will also have about 45 self-storage units in the basement.”

Shreveport Councilwoman LeVette Fuller said once complete, the rehabilitation of those two buildings will be a positive for downtown Shreveport.

“Having people living and working in this building would mean more revenue for the city, more foot traffic for downtown. And, most importantly, we’re saving a historic building from decay and collapse.”

Rubenstein’s, billed as the “Shopping Center of the Ark-La-Tex,” opened in 1927 in the center of Shreveport’s downtown business district. It offered clothing, shoes and a variety of household items until it closed in 1987.

Ever since, the two Milam Street buildings that make up the former Rubenstein’s primarily have been used for storage.

“The two buildings that make up the former Rubenstein Department Store are in rough shape and need a lot of love,” Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Shreveport Development Corp., said in a statement about the Rubenstein Project. “But even though they are challenged, they have amazing potential to bring new life to this important part of the Central Business District.”

In 2019, the Rubenstein buildings were donated to the DSDC, a nonprofit that works to improve and develop Shreveport’s urban core. Swaine said the organization has a history of directly repurposing buildings such as 416 Cotton St., 708 Texas St., 617 Texas St. and 221 Texas St. or working with partners to bring vacant downtown buildings back to life. That’s where Lee comes in.

Lee said he expects the project to be completed within two to three years.

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