Plans to renovate the former Our Lady of Good Counsel school on Louisiana Avenue into a 22-unit apartment building received a initial approval from city officials on Tuesday, bolstered by support from neighbors in the Garden District Association.
The former school, located on Louisiana Avenue, was originally constructed in 1923 and has been vacant for 20 years, according to the City Planning staff. The applicant, Good Counsel, LLC, has proposed for the apartment building to also have a pool in the rear of the property with an open-air pavilion and rain gardens for the front yard of the building.
Historic tax credits will be used to rehabilitate the building, said Cynthia Dubberly, one of the project architects. Dubberly also said that originally submitted plans request 20 off-street parking spaces, but were reduced to 18 at the recommendation of the City Planning staff.
“[I]t has been reduced to 18 spaces in order to get a 24-foot wide drive within the ground floor of the building,” Dubberly said.
Dubberly also mentioned that developers were working with the archdiocese to have a shared entry drive to the site for the nearby church property.
City documents indicate that the site has been associated with the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church for over 100 years. The church’s campus expanded down Louisiana Avenue and Chestnut Street. The school closed first, then the church and both were put on their own lots of record in 2014. The church has since undergone renovations to operate as a church again, according to the documents.
Shelley Landrieu, executive director of the Garden District Association, said that neighbors support the project.
“Everybody is in agreement that this is a very good re-adapted use of this site,” she said.
According to Landrieu, developers of the project are working with the association on a good-neighbor agreement to address possible lighting and security cameras on the property.
Landrieu asked that the two parking spots that City Planning staff decreased from original plans be reconsidered to help the congestion in the area.
“It’s very critical to the neighborhood that we have those two extra parking places and find more parking if there is any possible way,” Landrieu said.
Landrieu mentioned that the SELA project is underway on Louisiana Avenue and said that the two extra parking spaces would help.
City Planning Commissioners moved forward with a unanimous vote of approval of the plans with the 18 off-street parking spaces, sending it to City Council for a final decision.