Reinvestment Fund is financing the redevelopment of the iconic former St. Rose de Lima church building and two adjacent schoolhouses into a new cultural hub for the arts, education, and community in New Orleans.
The Bayou Treme Center for Arts and Education is a partnership of Alembic Community Development, a mission-driven developer, and Rose Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that supports reinvestment along Bayou Road. Together they are renovating the three adjacent properties, which have not been occupied since Hurricane Katrina.
When completed in 2018, the 47,300-square-foot campus will house an acclaimed theatre company with a 30-year operating history, the Waldorf School of New Orleans (WSNO), and co-working space targeting people in the creative industries and the burgeoning education sector in New Orleans. The transformed campus will advance New Orleans’ cultural economy by showcasing diverse local and regional theatre, incubating emerging theatre companies and professionals, and providing a range of educational programming for youth and underserved populations. It will also have a strong impact on the area though job creation and the return of these long-vacant and deteriorating buildings back to active use.
The project is funded by New Markets Tax Credits, federal and state Historic Tax Credits, and city and state Community Development Block Grant funds. Reinvestment Fund is providing a leverage loan—funded in part by an arts-related PRI from the Kresge Foundation—and a bridge loan to bridge Historic Tax Credit equity and the city and state loans. National Trust Community Investment Corporation is providing the full NMTC allocation and serves as the investor for the NMTCs and the federal Historic Tax Credits.
The city’s only year-round professional theatre, Southern Repertory Theatre will reside in the newly renovated 100-year-old church building, after not having a home since 2013. WSNO currently operates out of two leased properties located in the Irish Channel and Milan neighborhoods. The nonprofit school has operated for 15 years, integrating academics with the arts, culture and community from early childhood through 8th grade. The new facility will allow the school to grow its enrollment from 106 currently to 227 children in preK through grade 8, with more specialized classrooms and the goal of increasing enrollment from the neighborhood.
Bayou Treme is located in the 7th Ward, adjacent to Bayou Road. One of the city’s oldest streets, it originally followed the historic portage between the Mississippi River and bayou out to the Gulf of Mexico. Today, Bayou Road sits at the crossroads of the city’s working class and most culturally resonant neighborhoods, adjacent to Tremé/Lafitte. The predominantly Afro-Caribbean corridor—surrounded by a community that is more than 80% African American and 60% low-income—is dominated by women-owned businesses known locally as the “Belles of Bayou Road. The neighborhood is also part of the City’s Livable Claiborne Communities initiative, an ongoing multi-year effort to invest resources in the city’s most culturally significant yet underresourced areas.