City Planning Commission approves New Orleans Delta Foundation community center
The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the New Orleans Delta Foundation’s proposal for a community center located on 1949 Duels Street and 2741 Saint Anthony Street.
The nonprofit organization wishes to turn three currently constructed buildings that were damaged and left vacant since Hurricane Katrina into a multipurpose center, an education and outreach center, and an administration building.
The City Planning Commission staff recommended approval for the proposal, subject to seven provisos submitted in their staff report.
Sheila Danzey, president of the New Orleans Delta Foundation, spoke on behalf of the nonprofit organization’s proposal. Danzey explained that the organization has over 500 acting members, and their goal in buying the property was to put the neighborhood back into commerce.
“The intent is to spur some redevelopment in the historic Seventh Ward,” Danzey said. “We have done that because Good Shepard (School) is moving around the corner from us, and we’re hoping that partnership will work for us.”
Danzey noted proviso six by the City Planning Commission.
“That proviso gives us three years to develop all the properties,” Danzey said. “We’d like to expand that to five years, because we’re doing these renovations in stages, starting concurrently with the rectory and the church.”
She said the Delta Sigma Theta national organization is 104 years old, while the chapter in New Orleans is 80 years old, and the nonprofit organization that owns the property is 28 years old.
Civil Rights activist Angelina Elder opposed the New Orleans Delta Foundation’s proposal.
“I’m against the Deltas coming to St. Epiphany,” Elder said. “Epiphany has always been rich in culture. We as neighbors, homeowners, we built up Epiphany; that’s our generational wealth.”
Elder said she would like the area’s church, school, and other public facilities to come back.
“We need a church that was once there, because our wealth built up Epiphany.”
“This is a community facility,” Danzey said in response to Elder. “It’s not just open for Deltas.”
Danzey explained that the Archdiocese of New Orleans also spoke to the issue of Epiphany Roman Catholic Church opening again, when they sold the property to the New Orleans Delta Foundation. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has no plans for Epiphany to come back, and they decommissioned the Epiphany parish a few years ago to combine it with the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church.
Before putting the motion to pass in a vote, Commissioner Eugene Green thanked the New Orleans Delta Foundation for their willingness to develop on this land.
“It’s been vacant for far too long,” Green said. “I know the Deltas. I know it’s going to be open to the public, that there will be outreach to the community, and I’m pleased to see this development turn into a higher and better use.”
The City Planning Commission confirmed that substantial construction of the proposal can be completed in up to an additional two years, matching the five years that Danzey requested for the project.