Covering Louisiana

Aug 27, 2014 11:45 AM by AP

Old Houma school to become apartments

HOUMA, La. (AP) - After months of uncertainty about the future of the former Houma Elementary School, a plan is in place to turn the property into an apartment complex.

The site in downtown Houma 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 were relocated.

Last week, the school board gave the property to the parish.

Parish President Michel Claudet told The Courier parish officials will begin requesting proposals to buy the property.

"There have been a number of people who have approached the parish and indicated interest in the building, the property. They want to change it into some type of housing for residents," Claudet said.

Officials believe the building is old enough to receive state tax credits for its rehabilitation. Claudet said the housing would be affordable, mixed-income apartments.

"We feel housing is extremely important. We also believe it would assist in upgrading and benefiting the surrounding area," Claudet said.

A third-party property evaluator will assist the parish in the process, Claudet said.

The entire site's estimated worth is about $1.9 million, according to Murphy Appraisal Services.

An appraisal by Logan Babin Real Estate and Appraisals for the 3.43 acres of land was set at $882,000 but didn't include the school building, which school officials initially felt was worthless.

The building was built in 1931 after the Terrebonne Parish Police Jury gave the school system the land to build a school. Included in the agreement was a clause stating when the property was no longer used for education it should be returned to parish government.

Parish and School Board attorneys discovered the clause when re-evaluating the agreement earlier this year.

The school was closed in 1970.

The School Board twice unsuccessfully attempted to sell the property. In both attempts, the board never received a bid.

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