Blessed Trinity Parish and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans this week announced plans to redevelop the former Our Lady of Lourdes School in Uptown New Orleans into 62 one-bedroom apartments and studios for rent for people low-income seniors.
The new retirement homes, to be called Our Lady of Lourdes Apartments, will be developed by Providence Community Housing and operated by Christopher Homes, the affordable housing arm of the Archdiocese. The residences, located on avenue Napoléon and rue Freret, should open their doors in early 2023.
“At the invitation of Blessed Trinity parishioners and the community, Providence will help fill the critical need for affordable housing in this vibrant neighborhood,” said Terri North, President and CEO of Providence, a real estate developer for the purpose. nonprofit that has created more than 1,600 affordable rental housing units since Hurricane Katrina and sold 100 homes to low to moderate income families throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area.
“Providence is proud to transform this viable property that has been dormant for too long,” said North.
The property is leased to Providence by its owner, Blessed Trinity Parish, the Roman Catholic parish formed by the post-Katrina amalgamation of Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Matthias and St. Monica parishes and based in the former St. Matthias Church on Rue Large du Sud.
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Providence, in collaboration with Trapolin-Peer Architects of New Orleans, will undertake a renovation of the Notre-Dame de Lourdes school building built in 1957.
The redevelopment aims to respect the architectural integrity of the mid-century modern structure and the building’s “school vibe” while reconfiguring its 22 classrooms, cafeteria, convent and auditorium-gymnasium combination into apartments. They plan to keep original features such as terrazzo marble floors, chalkboards, aluminum stair railings, and glazed brick walls in shades of pink, beige, scum green and aqua.
Residence studios will vary from 450 to 500 square feet, while one-bedroom units will offer 630 to 700 square feet of interior space.
In addition to carving out 44 residential units from the existing school building, a three-story addition attached to the Jena Street facade will provide 18 new apartments. The addition will also include a terrace on the third floor.
The largest indoor space on the site – the auditorium-gym – will be used as a meeting space. Energy-saving features will include high-efficiency ceiling fans, blinds, water heaters and appliances, as well as individually controlled thermostats in each apartment. Other features are a storm water management system, business center, and indoor and outdoor gathering areas.
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The 62 residential units will be reserved for people aged 62 and over who earn at least 50% of the region’s median income, which means less than $ 25,000. Rent for residents will be based on a sliding scale equal to 30% of their income, said Deacon Dennis Adams, executive director of Christopher Homes, the archdiocesan agency that operates more than 2,500 affordable apartments for elderly and disabled residents in 22 metro properties. area.
“This project (at the old Notre-Dame de Lourdes school) brings Christopher Homes to an area of town we’ve never been to before,” Adams said. “It’s not just affordable housing that Christopher Homes offers, but deeply affordable housing.
The $ 28 million project will use both historic federal and state tax credits and a federal housing loan, in addition to funding from philanthropists in the region. Providence is also working with the New Orleans Financial Authority to secure social housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and payment in lieu of taxes.
The redevelopment project will not include the restoration of the old church and presbytery Notre-Dame de Lourdes, 96 years old, which are located a few steps away but belong to a separate entity.
The school building is several decades younger than the church and functioned as the Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School until it closed following Hurricane Katrina.
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After the storm, the building became the site of a Recovery School District charter school. In the fall of 2012, Holy Rosary Academy and High School moved to campus, remaining there until it closed in 2019.
Upon completion of the project, Christopher Homes will manage the day-to-day operations of the Our Lady of Lourdes apartments and coordinate resident services.
The apartment complex marks the seventh collaboration between Christopher Homes and Providence; the others are St. Ann Square in Treme; Manoir St. John Berchmans in Gentilly; Deille Inn, Nazareth Inn and Nazareth Inn II in New Orleans East; and the Auberge de l’Annonnement in the Faubourg Marigny.
Construction is expected to start early next year and take around 13 months.
Adams said many Blessed Trinity parishioners were happy to hear last month about the restoration of the school many attended as children.
“When they looked at the plans, they were delighted to see that they could still recognize their school,” Adams said.
In a June 22 meeting in the school’s gymnasium to provide neighbors with information about the project, Stan Norwood, a longtime resident and neighborhood businessman, and chairman of the Neighbors United residential group, said said he was “deeply moved” that seniors who might otherwise be forced to leave the neighborhood due to high rents or an inability to maintain their homes now have another option to stay.
“It’s one thing to move because you want to, but it’s another to move because you have to,” said Norwood. “When you can walk around and people say, ‘Hi. How are you?’ – These things are very important to the people who have lived here for a very long time.
Joanne Alexander, who started attending Notre-Dame de Lourdes in second grade, said she felt a surge of emotions as she sat in her old gym bleachers. She showed off her eighth-grade diploma from 1979 and said she kept in touch with fellow Notre-Dame de Lourdes “Eagles” via social media.
“If nothing was done here (on the closed campus) it would be a huge waste of real estate,” Alexander said. “I am happy that this project helps the citizens of this community, because this school is a treasure. “