2635 State Street, New Orleans, LA
Ursuline Academy in New Orleans was founded in 1727, nine years after the city’s establishment. It is both the oldest continuously-operating school for girls and the oldest Catholic School in the United States. For 284 years, Ursuline Academy’s core values have rested upon consistent support for the advancement of women in society, regardless of their family’s station. This conviction has manifested itself repeatedly, and has included through the years a steadfast commitment to the education of African Americans and Native Americans, and an early recognition of the importance of sheltering battered women, among other groundbreaking stances.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina threatened to extinguish this landmark institution. Floodwaters surged onto Ursuline’s State Street campus, and gale force winds tore holes in the roofs of the school’s historic buildings. Two years of consultations within the Ursuline community produced a compelling roadmap for institutional recovery. A key component of the school’s recovery plan was the construction of a multi-purpose fitness/wellness center. Notably, the Wellness Center was not intended to help Ursuline students alone; it was designed to serve the broader local community by promoting health, wellness, fitness, and good nutrition. The Fitness & Wellness Center’s design provided for the historic rehabilitation of the school’s circa 1935 gymnasium, an adaptive re-use embodying the highest aspirations of the green building movement – as there is no greener building than a re-used building. A new addition was also prescribed, with architecture that complemented but did not imitate that of the historic Ursuline campus.
Following upon its success structuring the financing for Ursuline’s Early Childhood Learning Center, Crescent Growth Capital was retained to arrange a dual New Markets Tax Credit/state historic tax credit financing. In October of 2011, CGC closed on a $5.5 million NMTC financing, permitting the start of construction. Authoring the state historic preservation certification applications for the project, CGC qualified the project for state historic tax credits, resulting in nearly $2.2 million in project costs being deemed Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses. Furthermore, CGC’s Part 2 application so effectively communicated the design of project architects Waggonner & Ball that no conditions were attached to the Part 2 approval issued by the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation. In October of 2014, CGC completed its historic tax credit arranger services by accomplishing the monetization of the state historic tax credits on behalf of Ursuline Academy.
In the final analysis, Ursuline Academy received a total subsidy of over $1 million on their $6 million project.