Image of 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. via Google Maps
City officials, development firm Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, and Gideon Community Development Corporation celebrated the ground breaking last week on the restoration of 1626 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The $2.4 million project will bring the historic 9,000 square foot building back to life as an office building.
The building will house new offices for Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Gideon Community Development Corporation, an affiliate of Gloryland Mt. Gillion Baptist Church and the owner of the building.
“This project represents the transformation of both a building and a community,” said Councilmember Jay H. Banks in a written statement. “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.”
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 Community Development Corporation, 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.
Financing was provided by IberiaBank and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, with historic tax credit equity investments through Twain Financial Partners.