Several former New Orleans school campuses and empty lots owned by the Orleans Parish School Board are going on the market. It’s the latest round of divestment for the School Board since planners decided about one third of the city’s public schools were no longer needed due to Hurricane Katrina damage and decades of enrollment decline.
The newly available buildings are:
- Murray Henderson Elementary in Algiers
- Valena Jones Elementary in the Tremé-Lafitte area
- Robert Moton Elementary in the Desire neighborhood
- Tubman Custodial Cottage in Algiers
The green space list has part of Algiers Memorial Park, a portion of Cabrini Park in the French Quarter, a parcel at 2800 General Meyer Ave. in Algiers and the sites of the former Joseph Hardin, J.B. Noble, Thomas Alva Edison, Florence Chester, John F. Kennedy and Thomy Lafon schools.
By state law, charter school operators get first dibs at the buildings. It’s not clear whether the same holds true for empty lots; the School Board has requested an attorney general’s opinion to clarify the matter.
The properties’ values range widely, and most of the appraisals must be updated. Current estimates range from $45,000 for the empty Noble site to about $2 million for Armstrong and Bell to $6.2 million for Kennedy. The last is an 18-acre tract adjacent to City Park.
Ken Ducote, who ran the School Board’s facilities office before Katrina, said several of the sites could pose issues for redevelopment. Most notable is Moton, built on a former dump that was later designated as a toxic Superfund site. Neighbors have been suing for decades to get compensation for health effects they consider to be environmentally related.
The Tubman cottage is a small residential building. The Kennedy site is zoned as a park; so is Cabrini, which neighbors want to turn into a dog run. Armstrong is a “strong candidate for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” Ducote said. The Algiers Memorial Park has a statue commemorating Algiers residents who were killed in foreign wars. The Lafon site was once a cemetery, and new uses are restricted.
Tours of the buildings are scheduled Jan. 12, 13 and 14, as are tours of three campuses that were already on the market: Israel Meyer Augustine in Mid-City, Louis Armstrong Elementary in the Lower 9th Ward and A.J. Bell Jr. High and Annex in Tremé-Lafitte. Interested parties must inform the school system in advance, sign a waiver and take a flashlight.
The green spaces are, a school system flier states, “available for viewing at your convenience.”