NEW ORLEANS — Earlier this month, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority board of commissioners awarded the former Louisiana Avenue Fire House at 2312-14 Louisiana Avenue to Home by Hand Inc., led by Alembic Community Development, which is planning a historic restoration of the building that will create seven new permanently affordable 1- and 2-bedroom apartments above an early childhood education center on the ground floor. The total development cost for the project is expected to be approximately $3.9 million.
The award was made possible through NORA’s partnership with the City of New Orleans to redevelop vacant and underused City-owned property for the creation of affordable housing and economic development opportunities. Through the program, known as the Redevelopment Framework, NORA leases the property from the City for a period of 99 years and manages the property and redevelopment process, from initial community engagement, through the selection of a qualified developer, and completion of the project. The Cooperative Endeavor Agreement and lease for the firehouse property were approved by the City Council and executed by Mayor LaToya Cantrell in late 2021.
“The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority is pleased to award the historic Louisiana Avenue Fire House through this innovative new partnership with the City of New Orleans,” said NORA Executive Director Brenda M. Breaux. “NORA has an impressive track record in the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized properties, and we remain incredibly well-positioned to deliver new affordable housing and economic development across the city. The proposed redevelopment of the Fire House is a great example of the type of projects we originally envisioned through this partnership.”
“The award of this project not only repositions vacant City-owned property, but also puts more affordable housing units and educational resources for growing families within our communities,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Our continued partnership with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority solidifies my administration’s commitment to align our most critical needs with the development of necessary infrastructure that will create healthy and prosperous neighborhoods.”
The new apartments, located on the second floor and loft of the firehouse, will be affordable to families at 50%, 60%, or 80% of area median income under a land trust model that will ensure permanent affordability. The early childhood education center located on the ground floor will provide up to 50 seats for children from the surrounding neighborhoods and will accommodate schedules for shift workers outside of traditional operating hours. The development team will work with For Providers By Providers to partner with an operator for the early childhood education center and will apply for funding for construction and operations raised through the Early Childhood Education property tax millage approved by New Orleans voters in April 2022.
“On behalf of Home by Hand and its development partner, Alembic Community Development, we’re very excited for the opportunity to return the historic firehouse at 2312-2314 Louisiana Avenue to community-serving uses with permanent affordable housing and an early childhood education facility,” said Home by Hand Executive Director Oji Alexander. “Thank you to NORA and the City of New Orleans; community development projects face significant challenges during this time of increased costs of construction and capital, so it is especially important that publicly-owned properties like the firehouse are being made available for redevelopment.”
Financial closing for the Louisiana Avenue Fire House is expected in late 2023 with construction completion expected in late 2024. NORA and the City of New Orleans are also advancing the redevelopment of 2600 South Broad Street and 1141 Esplanade Avenue through the partnership and additional properties are currently under consideration.