A long-vacant building on O.C. Haley Boulevard — designed by the architect of Charity Hospital and the Louisiana State Capital building — is now under renovation through a collaboration between the nearby Gloryland Mr. Gillion Baptist Church and the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership.
City officials joined the church and the nonprofit Thursday to celebrate the start of the $2.4 million renovation of 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard into commercial storefront space and new offices, noting that it is the last vacant building on the now-busy block.
For details, see the announcement below:
Councilmember Jay H. Banks joined representatives from Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s office, the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (“GCHP”) and members of the Gloryland Mt. Gillion Baptist Church to break ground for the $2.4 MM historic restoration of the 9,000 square foot building at 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The building’s original architect, Leon Weiss, also designed iconic buildings that include New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and the Louisiana State Capital building. Once completed, the project will provide commercial storefront space on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. and new offices for Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Gideon Community Development Corporation (“Gideon CDC”).
“This project represents the transformation of both a building and a community.” Said Councilmember Jay H. Banks “while we may have problems and issues that we need to focus on in the city, it is indeed a pleasure to be here today to highlight a project like this that is really good for this community. […] We are looking forward to the completion of this project, and to working with this community to develop many more similar projects.”
“For years, city officials and partners have worked to bring back Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. and Central City.” Said Julius Feltus, Mayor Cantrell’s Senior Advisor for Community Relations, “Central City is near and dear to [Mayor Cantrell]’s heart and so is Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. As a councilmember [Mayor Cantrell] represented District B and this proud neighborhood. […] We recognize that this groundbreaking helps eliminate the last blighted property on the  block of The Boulevard. We want to thank everyone involved for making that happen, especially the Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Merchants and Business Association and the Gloryland Mt. Gillion Baptist Church.”
The building at 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. is the last long-vacant structure on the 1600 block of Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. – a block that just 10 years ago contained only vacant and blighted buildings. The 1600 block is now core to Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.’s revitalization and home to a broad array of businesses: Café Reconcile, the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, Orleans Coffee & Espresso Bar, the Net Charter School, Youth Empowerment Project, the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, office spaces, and the Friday Night Fights Gym.Gideon CDC, an affiliate of Gloryland Mt. Gillion Baptist Church, purchased the long-vacant property in 2002 with plans to redevelop it as a part of a community revitalization effort. Initial challenges in redeveloping the property were exacerbated when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. In 2015, after seeing work that GCHP had done on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., Gideon CDC reached out GCHP for help in creating a financially viable path forward for the project. That process is now complete, once construction is completed, Gideon CDC will retain ownership of the building.
“We say to our partners thank you.” Said Pastor Norman Stovall of Gloryland Mt. Gillion Baptist Church. “Thank you for your commitment and your faithfulness in joining hands with us so that we can make a difference in Central City, so that we can make a difference in our beloved City, and so we can make a difference in the lives of our people and this area, and our City, to what it should be – a place where families can walk once again in safety and security”
Financing was provided by IberiaBank and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, with historic tax credit equity investments through Twain Financial Partners.