This story appeared in the February issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
Brown’s Dairy Redevelopment
LOCATION: Central City
DEVELOPMENT: When Brown’s Dairy announced plans to shutter its New Orleans facility in 2016, Central City residents bemoaned the loss of 185 jobs and wondered what would become of the sprawling campus. The dairy’s parent company opted to sell the property, which comprised nearly three city squares. Plans recently emerged for two developments on the former dairy site, and each includes a novel approach to housing affordability.
The large parking lot that covers most of the square riverside of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard opposite the former Myrtle Banks School was acquired by Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Alembic Community Development, which previously rehabbed the dilapidated school building. Last fall, it announced a partnership with health insurance company Humana to build a 192-unit “health and housing” facility that also includes a clinic serving residents and neighbors. The housing units will be reserved for Medicaid recipients.
At a December meeting of the New Orleans City Council Community Development Committee, another development team revealed plans for the remainder of the Brown’s Dairy property: two squares between Baronne and Carondelet streets that include buildings as well as a large parking lot and straddle a now-closed block of Thalia Street. Those plans call for a variety of single-family homes and duplexes to be built over 53 lots, of which 30 percent will be set aside for homebuyers earning 80 percent or less of area median income. Developers Michael Merideth, David Hect and Peter Aamodt described their plans as a replicable model for low-income homeownership, wherein low-income buyers who purchase a double can use rent proceeds toward a mortgage. The plans, which met with a warm reception from the council, may hinge on the city purchasing, repairing and re-opening Thalia Street and granting reduced property taxes to the designated affordable homes.
Public School Facilities
OWNER: NOLA Public Schools
LOCATIONS: Around New Orleans
DEVELOPMENT: For many students in New Orleans, returning to school this January meant staying put at home. With COVID-19 cases again on the rise, NOLA Public Schools made the call to temporarily return all students to virtual learning following the winter break. Nevertheless, work has continued on several historic school facilities. The $8 million renovation of the 1924 Lafayette School in Carrollton is expected to be complete in time for the 2021-22 school year. Designed by E.A. Christy in a three-story nod to Colonial Revival, the building made headlines in 2018 after summer repair work released asbestos fibers. Students attending Lafayette Academy had to be reshuffled to other facilities within the Choice Foundation charter network that fall. Across the river in Algiers Point, the 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival-style Martin Behrman School recently underwent asbestos and lead abatement. A gymnasium added in the 1950s was demolished, and is to be replaced as part of a $35 million renovation. A new auditorium is nearing completion at Booker T. Washington High School, while architects are planning a full renovation of the auditoriums at Douglas High and McMain High (estimated to run to $4 million and $5 million, respectively). The Orleans Parish School Board receives updates on facilities and capital projects at its monthly meetings; those reports may be viewed via https://nolapublicschools.com/community/board-info.