Acadiana Business

First Serve

by Walter Pierce

Local tennis star turns her attention to real estate, breathing new life into an old Oil Center building.

Local tennis star turns her attention to real estate, breathing new life into an old Oil Center building. By Lisa Hanchey

Photo by Robin May

La'Shon Rubin Wilson, left, and Chanda Rubin

In 1996, Lafayette native Chanda Rubin was at the pinnacle of her professional tennis career, garnering international titles and rising to No. 6 in the world. But the Lafayette native, who turned pro at age 15, knew that her athletic career could not last forever. So, in 2002, the savvy tennis sensation formed her own investment company, Charen Properties LLC (a combination of her first and middle names) and purchased a neglected three-story, 23,000-square-foot building in the Oil Center for future development.

"I always wanted to learn more and get more involved in real estate investing and understanding business," Chanda says.

"Having an office building as my initial investment property seemed like a better fit for me at that time," she adds. "I was still competing in tennis and traveling a lot, so I had to take into consideration my available time. I liked the location, and I liked the building and its size. It was solidly built, and a property I could really grow with into the future."

Over the next 10 years, Chanda retired from tennis, got a degree in economics with a minor in finance from Harvard University Extension School, and embarked on a second career as a sports commentator and motivational speaker. Then, she obtained her real estate license, nabbing a job with Coldwell Banker Pelican Real Estate. This year, she decided it was time to take a shot at her own real estate project.

About six months ago, Chanda began the arduous process of completely renovating her outdated office building, known simply by its address, 128 Demanade Building 4, replacing all ceiling tiles, light fixtures and flooring, repainting and refurbishing the elevator, kitchens and bathrooms. The result is a totally modern building, aptly branded @Spire Square, featuring the latest technology and concierge services. Her project will also be the first in Lafayette offering exclusively LUS Business Services.

Already, she has two tenants occupying the 1st and 2nd floors, including Latter & Blum Property Management and an oilfield service company. Latter & Blum relocated after outgrowing its space at the Travis Technology Center, which served as the model for Chanda's project. "I really wanted to contribute to revitalizing the Oil Center area," she says. "I wanted to invest in a building with the recognition of this area as a place where people want to work, and really want to be productive and creative. Our brand is Workspaces for the Creative Entrepreneur.'"

Like TTC, @Spire Square offers tenants concierge service, helmed by Chanda's sister, La'Shon Rubin Wilson. After running a day care center with her mother, working for a social services company and owning a restaurant, the Sunset Café, La'Shon decided it was time for a change.

"It was an opportunity for me to branch out," La'Shon explains. "I will be providing not only services for Chanda and the building, but also for the tenants who might not have someone who can do services such as copying, typing, answering phones and general office duties. "So, I'll be onsite Monday through Friday during business hours for anybody who needs services, or for anyone who wants to look at office space."

Another feature offered to tenants and outside businesses is a state-of-the-art media room. This area showcases an 80-inch SMART board for web conferencing, video calls, presentations and internal training. A smaller 60-inch mobile SMART board will also be available for tenants to take to their suites.

Space in @Spire Square is available ranging from 150 square feet up to an entire floor of 6,300 square feet. The LUS Business Services are packaged as part of their lease. "The LUS package will be offering the latest technology at the best rates available," says Abigail Ransonet, owner of her own technology business, Abacus Marketing Resources. Ransonet serves as Rubin's consultant for @Spire Square's strategic planning. "Every tenant in the building has the opportunity to utilize LUS Business Services. It's the first building in the city of Lafayette that is offering strictly LUS Business Services."

"It's been very important to me to keep exploring and expanding, and continue learning and growing," Chanda says. "And, I think with the services and amenities that @Spire Square has, we are developing it into a serious contender."

For more information, contact Chanda at (337) 889-3900 or [email protected].