by kari Dequine harden
New Orleans bureau
November 01, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — Listed at $720,000, the Philip A. Capdau Junior High School facilities at 3821 Franklin Ave. will be one of seven Orleans Parish School Board-owned properties that will go up for auction Nov. 8.
Interim Superintendent Stan Smith said “termination of properties” is part of the ongoing master plan to “right-size” the district, matching demographics to facilities.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Smith said, there were about 120 school properties. Smith said the school system has identified a need for about 90 schools.
If the building is not sold, Smith said, the board will be required to “mothball” the building to Department of Interior standards, an extensive and expensive process that secures the building while allowing for sufficient ventilation so that mold does not grow.
The Capdau building, built in 1927, has a vandal protection system installed, and the School Board is seeking reimbursement from FEMA for that system.
Ideally, the building will sell and be modified back into commerce, Smith said. “That would be much better than having a vacant building,” he said.
While the building reopened after Katrina, Smith said, the facilities had considerable damage, and the opportunity to move the school to a new location, at 4621 Canal Street, was seen as the best option.
Because the main building is considered a historic structure, preservationists have an eye on the auction.
Michelle Kimball, of the Preservation Resource Center, said that if the new owners want to utilize available FEMA funding or other federal money, they will need to comply with certain guidelines.
The PRC works with the School Board to find “adaptive reuses” for historic buildings, she said.
“The PRC has long advocated that the School Board be good stewards of the buildings they own. Hopefully the building will be acquired by someone sympathetic to preservation, and they will do right by it through a renovation,” Kimball said.
Other schools listed for the Nov. 8 auction include the New Orleans Free School at 3601 Camp Street ($1,410,000) and the Morris F.X. Jeff School at 800 North Rendon Street ($780,000).
Also up for auction are the gutted Timbers I and II office buildings on General DeGaulle Drive that formerly housed the School Board headquarters ($2,575,000) and the Algiers bus barn at 801 Patterson Drive that once served as a Civil War hospital ($625,000). Parcels to be sold include a 25,000-square-foot lot at 2712 Athis Street ($44,700) and a five-acre lot at 8258 Lake Forest Blvd. ($124,500).
Kimball said the PRC advocates finding a new use for the Capdau building that is sensitive and appropriate for the surrounding neighborhood and respects the building’s architectural integrity.
The auction will be the fourth the School Board has held since Katrina, Smith said, listing other schools that have found new life as upscale condos, low-income housing, retail space and residences for the elderly.
“They are beautiful old buildings with a lot of history,” Smith said. “We hope they can be salvaged and put back to use and survive another few generations.”
Smith said money from the sales will go into the capital project fund or toward site acquisition. The board is looking at acquiring new land in eastern New Orleans, where there is a shortage of schools, Smith said.
The auction will be held Nov. 8 at the OPSB offices at 3520 General DeGaulle Drive. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the auction begins at 11 a.m.