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Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

Southern Belle Apartments

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Former phone company becomes living spaces

In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Shreveporters would go downtown and pay their telephone bill at the Southern Bell Telephone Company.

In 2021, you can live in that same building.

The – note the “e” added to the word “Bell” – is one of the newer options for those who want to call downtown “home.” At 627 Crockett St., the Southern Belle features one, twoand three-bedroom units, ranging in price from $1,350 to $2,875 per month. While you will enjoy modern-day amenities throughout, you will still be surrounded by a historic feel.

“We even still have the booths that, in the 1940s, the ladies sat in to take your bill payments,” said Daisy Brammer, The Southern Belle’s leasing agent. “We still have the booths with the glass and the seats and the drawers. I’m going to do everything I can to work that into the architecture of the new restaurant. There’s no way I’m going to let anyone destroy that.”

Another sign of the building’s history – and charm – extends from the foyer to the sidewalk and wraps around the front of the building.

“The floors apparently had not been cleaned in at least 10 years,” Brammer said. “Everybody just assumed they were just ugly concrete floors because there was so much dirt on top of them. We had a contractor come in, and he brought a subcontractor to clean them. When he cleaned them, all of these beautiful colors came out. I mean, colors like pastels, terra cotta reds, robin’s egg blue and some grays. They’re gorgeous. They just needed love.”

The 12 apartments – 10 are currently available – are loaded with luxury items.

“Scott (Harkey, The Southern Belle’s owner) has spared no expense,” Brammer said. “Every appliance is brand new and energy-efficient. We have convection ovens, glass-top stoves and programmable thermostats. The locks on our doors are keyless, all done with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. We have granite countertops, ceramic floors, and washers and dryers in all of the units.”

While the apartments are ready to be lived in, construction continues. When The Southern Belle is finished, it will have an enclosed rooftop pool and hot tub for residents and guests.

“It will be climate-controlled,” Brammer said of the glass room. That way, you can sit up there even when it’s 100 degrees outside and enjoy not being too hot by the pool. When it’s cold, you can actually go up there and sit in the hot tub and not dread getting out, because it will be warm in there.”

The rooftop will also have tables and gazebos to go along with the already installed artificial turf from Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the first floor, there will also be a fine-dining restaurant open to the public.

“We’re going to contract it out, get it prepared, put in a first-class kitchen – I’m hoping Gordon Ramsey would be proud – and then we’re going to let someone who wants to run a restaurant – a chef that wants to have his own business – lease the restaurant from us.”

Brammer said the “fine-dining” concept was chosen to complement the area’s other food choices.

“There are plenty of food trucks around here. There’s plenty of great food in Shreveport. We’re just hoping to provide people with a place to sit down, have a cocktail, a business meeting, your daughter made the honor roll kind of thing.”

The restaurant’s exact menu has not been decided, but you are certain to enjoy a taste of history.

“There’s going to be some exposed brick because it’s downtown,” Brammer explained. “We want to maintain the downtown feel. We want you to know you’re in a downtown historic building.”

According to Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, there are 775 downtown apartments – with more on the way. She says the current apartment buildings stay close to full.

“Shreveport’s downtown provides the benefits of urban living without the drawbacks,” Swaine said. “You can park your car and walk to our art galleries, sidewalk cafes, restaurants and theaters, without the crowds of large cities. You can live in a century-old building with giant windows and high ceilings. If you’re lucky enough to work downtown, you can walk to work. On the weekends, you can meet friends and have coffee, stroll down the street to go on a pub crawl, a history tour or to an art exhibit. Where else can you do that?” Brammer and her husband live at The Southern Belle. She says everyday progress surrounds her.

“Downtown is coming back. I am watching it all around me. These old buildings that have been ignored and neglected and forgotten about are all being bought and rejuvenated – renovated. It’s coming back.”

To learn more about Southern Belle Apartments, you may visit www.thesouthernbelleapartments.com.

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