- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

HOUMA, La. (AP) - The old Houma Elementary School building may be repurposed to accommodate affordable housing apartment units.

In its Tuesday night meeting, The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/1qGSqsg) the Terrebonne Parish council voted to regain possession of the now vacant building in downtown Houma from the School Board.

Built in 1931, the building was last used as a school in 1970. The building was being used as office space for the school district’s federal and special education services workers until this spring. Due to asbestos concerns, the 80 employees working inside the facility relocated to another closed school.

The parish is currently accepting proposals for various projects including one from HRI Properties, which has a reputation for restoring and repurposing old buildings.

Last year the school board was in talks with HRI to lease the property, appraised at roughly $1.9 million, for $1,000 per month.



Early this year the parish discovered a clause in the original donation agreement between the now-defunct Terrebonne Parish Police Jury and the school board that returned possession of the building to the parish in the event that it was no longer being used as a school.

Houma native Linda Thibodaux expressed her excitement to the council that the building will be rehabilitated.

“I know the neighborhood very well and I think there is enough improvement going on in that neighborhood and restoration of some lovely homes, that this could be the start of something really fine,” Thibodaux said.

Council members also expressed excitement for the potential of the project.

“That’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart as far as affordable housing here,” Councilman John Navy said.

Navy thanked Parish President Michel Claudet for looking deeper into the agreement to help the parish retain possession of the property.

“If something like this can come back on that side of town, you’re right. That would improve the community,” Navy said.

Councilwoman Arlanda Williams agreed.

“When we start introducing these establishments in downtown Houma, we are only regenerating the community and giving the community life and hope,” Williams said. “It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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