Former Tremé School to Become $40M Live/Work Artists Community

The Andre J. Bell Junior High School campus located in the historic arts neighborhood Tremé is just one step away from being redeveloped into a live/work artist community.

The Andre J. Bell Junior High School campus located in the historic arts neighborhood Tremé is just one step away from being redeveloped into a live/work artists community. According to The Advocate, the project has been approved by the New Orleans City Planning Commission and only needs one last nod of approval come from city council. It is unlikely the council will oppose the $40 million redevelopment project. The 1010 N. Galvez St. project would not only remove a sprawling blight sight but would also give the historic structure back to the community.

The two-block Bell School Arts Campus project, helmed by developer Artspace Projects Inc. with co-developer Providence Community Housing, envisions a two-phase redevelopment of the sprawling six-building campus to be complete by 2015. According to the project’s Web site, phase one, set to begin in early 2014, entails an adaptive reuse of the two largest on-campus structures into 73 affordable artists live/work units, including studio units as well as one-and two-bedroom apartments. The residential units will be accessible to cultural workers and their families and will have an affordability rate of 50 to 60 percent of the area median income. Also during phase one, the school’s band room will be restored into a musician’s training facility. Furthermore, 45,000 square feet of green space will be created for open arts and fresh food retail use, as well as athletic, marching band rehearsal and community meeting space.

Phase two will renovate a further three structures – all in all, 20,000 square feet of commercial and community space is to be developed, including a nonprofit incubator. The chapel will be transformed into a job-training facility in partnership with the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild, to provide training in such traditional artisan crafts as brick masonry, plastering and metalworking – job skills desperately needed by the Crescent City’s decaying (historic) buildings. Commercial space for small nonprofit organizations and creative enterprises are also in the plan, as is a community kitchen. By completion, the abandoned school campus will become a mixed-use, not-for-profit development sporting a mixed-income residential component, community space, education and job training facilities, as well as cultural and art space.

Funding for the project has been assembled from several sources, including the Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, the Kresge Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, ArtPlace and others.

According to The Advocate’s coverage, the property is currently owned by the Orleans Parish School Board, which will transfer the property to the Housing Authority of New Orleans, a project partner,  which in turn will either sell or rent the property to  the developers.

Artspace is a national developer of affordable artists space, focusing on both restoring historic properties and developing new structures. To date, it has completed 33 projects totaling more than 1,500 affordable live/work units.

The Andrew J. Bell campus is located near the $1.6 billion 300-square-block Iberville Tremé redevelopment (click here for more information about the project).

Images courtesy of Artspace Projects, Inc. via Facebook