Goode-Cage Drug Co. building being turned into apartments

Updated: Jan. 10, 2018 at 2:57 PM CST
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The old red brick building with bricked-in windows on the southeast corner of Spring at Travis streets in downtown Shreveport has seen a lot in its 100-plus years.

And soon it will be brought back to life.

The structure built in the early 1900s originally was used by Cavett Carriage Co., a carriage sales store.

In 1920, it became Goode-Cage Drug Co. That's where Bronchotone, Red River Chill Tonic and Webb's Stock Powder were manufactured.

Starting in 1933, it was used as a warehouse for wholesale pharmaceutical distributor Morris & Dickson Co.

Then it became Southwestern Drug, which it stayed until 1996.

Liz Swaine, executive director of Shreveport's Downtown Development Authority, said the building has been mostly vacant for the past 20 years.

And about three years ago, the back half of the building's roof collapsed.

People walking by can see the sky through the building's second-story windows.

"You know a lot of people will look at a building like this and say I see no opportunity. All I see is a money pit. It just needs to be demolished," Swaine said.

Then "there are those few wonderful people who see a building and realize and see a prime opportunity here."

The new owner of the building at 401 Spring St. is former Shreveport resident Robert Lay, chief operating officer for the Online Incentives Exchange.

He is familiar with utilizing historic tax credits in the rehabilitation of historic buildings.

"The plan is by 2019 to have this beautiful building or this building become beautiful again and become useful again," Swaine said.

By then, the 30,000-square-foot building will have become 30 affordable apartment units.

"Every building downtown has a wonderful history and a wonderful story," Swaine said.

And each is only an asset as long as it's standing.

"One thing that is absolutely a definite about our historic buildings is that while they stand, no matter what shape they are in, they can be rehabbed.

"But once they go to the ground, they have lost their opportunity."

Other downtown buildings also being turned into apartments.

Even so, Swaine said, there still is demand for Robert Lay's project.

"We have waiting list at the lofts @ 624," she said residential, commercial and retail space at 624 Texas St.

"There are far more people who want to get into that building than there are going to be spaces for.

"Then those people might start looking at The Standard, which is 509 Market, then they might look at this building," Swaine continued.

"All of these buildings are going to be radically different in their looks, space, in their feel. Not all the people who want an apartment want the same apartment."

There needs to be a 24/7 lifestyle downtown, and residential is absolutely key for the area, Swaine said.

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