Abandoned gas station to be demolished to make way for new building
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will soon get an upgraded view from his perch overlooking St. Charles Avenue.
The Greater New Orleans Foundation said Tuesday that it plans to tear down a long-abandoned gas station at Lee Circle and erect a three-story building that will house the foundation’s offices and space for nonprofit organizations to meet and work.
“It’s a real eyesore,” said Albert Ruesga, the foundation’s president and CEO, of the old gas station. “It’s probably kept a lot of foot traffic from coming from the museum district and exploring other parts of the city. I think it’ll be nice when that space is healed.”
The foundation plans to break ground on the 20,000-square-foot Center of Philanthropy, 919 St. Charles Ave., in the spring. Construction will take about a year, Ruesga said.
The new building will double the foundation’s space in the K&B building at 1055 St. Charles Ave.
The additional space is necessary both to accommodate the group’s growing staff, which has more than tripled in three decades, and its increased outreach to nonprofit organizations around the city, officials said.
With the larger space, the foundation will be able to expand its Organizational Effectiveness initiative, which provides nonprofits with peer- to-peer training and mentoring.
The foundation estimates that more than 250 organizations have participated in the 100 workshops it has offered.
The first floor of the building will be used for that purpose and also will include space available for lease by a for-profit or nonprofit business and a small retail operation such as a coffee shop.
The foundation’s offices will be on the second floor, and the third floor will house a “nonprofit resource center.”
Ruesga said the foundation decided on the Lee Circle site after searching in vain for years for an existing centrally located building near a streetcar line and with ample parking.
“It was just hard to find,” Ruesga said. “Especially a space that would have a very large room for public meetings.”
The foundation purchased the abandoned gas station site in December.
The organization has raised more than $13 million in the past year, about $6 million of which will be used to build on the site.
The remainder will fund an operating endowment and expansion of the foundation’s programming on topics including economic opportunity, workforce development and childhood development.
The Imagine Greater Campaign was the foundation’s first major fundraising effort since 1983, Ruesga said.