On October 18, Providence Community Housing and Columbia Residential celebrated the official opening of Sacred Heart at St. Bernard, a redevelopment of the former Sacred Heart Church, originally constructed in 1955 on St. Bernard Avenue in the 7th Ward of New Orleans.
Project partners, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Councilmember Jared Brossett, and members of the community gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours of the new mixed-income, multifamily community.
Located within the Faubourg Lafitte and Choice Neighborhood footprints, the church has been renovated and developed into a community living room, mail room and six rental units. The adaptive reuse allowed for unique architectural elements, such as the 25-foot arched ceiling, exposed brick, stone carvings with religious iconography and brass pendant lighting. In two units, confessionals were converted to nooks for studying or dining, while the church tower and choir loft were each translated to apartments with creative floorplans.
Adjacent to the church, a new four-story building has been constructed with additional residential rental units, bringing the community total to 53 one- and two-bedroom apartments and more than 65,000 square feet. Forty-four units are reserved for residents who make below 60 percent of the Area Median Income and nine are market-rate. The first floor will also house approximately 4,200 square feet of retail space and serve as a home base for 826 New Orleans, a nonprofit youth creative writing group. The buildings are connected by a private courtyard, creating an outdoor gathering space that bridges together the old and the new.
“Housing affordability is at a crisis point in New Orleans, making projects like this one vitally important,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I am proud of the partnership Providence Community Housing and Columbia Residential provided to the City, and glad to see the grand opening of Sacred Heart at St. Bernard. We want to seize every opportunity to improve the quality of life for our people—and a big part of that is access to quality housing.”
“Sacred Heart at St. Bernard exemplifies Providence’s mission-driven approach to real estate development by preserving and increasing the supply of affordable homes throughout the Greater New Orleans region,” said Terri North, president and CEO of Providence Community Housing. “This vision could not have become a reality without the collaboration of Columbia Residential, the City of New Orleans, Louisiana Housing Corporation, HANO, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Urban Focus, Vance Vaucresson and all of the neighbors who have shared valuable input throughout this development. Together, we are connecting people to resources that create opportunity and enhance quality of life.”
In line with Columbia Residential’s high standards for developing homes where people are proud to live, each apartment includes new Energy Star appliances. Residents also have access to on-site laundry facilities, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a business center and gated parking. The community is located along the 51 and 52 St. Bernard-St. Anthony / St. Bernard-Paris Avenue bus lines.
“Amid a rapid increase in short-term rentals and rising costs of homes in many previously affordable New Orleans neighborhoods, Columbia Residential is truly honored to bring this redevelopment to life alongside our incredible partners,” said Noel Khalil, founder and principal of Columbia Residential. “Together with Providence Community Housing, we have created a one-of-a-kind place for residents and visitors that honors the beauty of the historic site while serving today’s families with modern amenities.”
JHP Architecture and Gulf Engineers & Consultants make up the design team, and Block Builders is the general contractor. Columbia Residential will manage the property.