The firehouse redevelopment team updated the Delachaise Neighborhood Association at the group’s November meeting about the plans for the blighted firehouse on Louisiana Avenue.
The historic firehouse will be renovated to include seven units of permanently affordable housing upstairs, with an early childhood education center on the ground floor. The early childhood education center will also occupy the property’s outdoor space and an “accessory structure” behind the main building.
The city owns the property and is leasing it to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) for a 99-year term; NORA is currently managing the property but will sublease it to the development partner, who will put the building and surrounding space back into use.
The developers for the project are Alembic Community Development, Home by Hand, Studio Kiro (the architecture firm overseeing the restoration of the Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street) and CDW Services as the general contractors.
Members of the Alembic development team as well as NORA representative Seth Knudsen gave the updates on the project. Alembic team member Jonathan Leit was optimistic about the physical state of the building.
“There’s always work to be done but, compared to other buildings we’ve worked on, it’s in pretty good shape,” Leit said.
The overall cost of the renovations is expected to be around $4 million, and Leit said that they hope to have funding secured by the end of next year, with construction beginning in 2024 and the apartments and childhood education center ready to open in 2025.
So far, a partner has not been chosen to run the early childhood center, and it is unclear what the program will be like or what age group it will serve. Jonathan Leit said they expect a mix of publicly and privately funded tuition for the childcare center, citing the city’s expansion of the City Seats program earlier this year.
Upstairs, the building will have seven units of permanently affordable housing, with four one-bedroom apartments and three two-bedroom apartments. One unit will be designated for a household earning below 50% of the area median income (currently $40,900 a year); five for households earning below 60% AMI ($49,080) and one for a household earning below 80% AMI ($65,440).
NORA representative Seth Knudsen also mentioned NORA is “talking with YAYA about a public art project,” to make the site more visually appealing before and during construction.
Many residents in attendance were concerned about parking at the site. The building has legacy zoning, meaning that it does not have, and will not have, designated off-street parking for the tenants or for parents of the children attending the childcare center.
There is a vacant lot beside the firehouse property that NORA is “moving forward with acquiring,” according to Knudsen; however, he reported that the site cannot be turned into parking for the residents of the firehouse or parents of the children attending daycare at 2314 Louisiana.
However, the issue that residents repeatedly raised was that of parking and congestion. Knudsen and the Alembic team says that the project is still getting off the ground, but that they are looking at possible solutions, such as staggering drop off and pickup timing for the childhood education center.
“We’re going to do as much plotting and planning as we can to look to mitigate these impacts,” Knudsen said.
Reporter Jesse Baum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.