Developers: Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless

Architect: Coleman & Partners

Major Funders: Louisiana Housing Finance Agency; city of Baton Rouge; Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Whitney Bank-Community Housing Capital

The Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP) and the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless overcame financing challenges to transform a historic school building and construct a new building for low-income individuals in Baton Rouge, La.

The development team purchased the dilapidated Scott Street School, which was built in 1922 and was one of the first public schools to educate African- American children in the state, at an auction in 2007 but then hit a snag. The project had received an allocation of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), but as the development team headed toward closing, the LIHTC market bottomed out and the syndicators pulled out of the deal. The team had to return the tax credits and reassemble the financing. As it turned out, the Great Recession and the government's response to it saved the day for the $8.4 million project and became the anchor source of financing through the Tax Credit Exchange Program and Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The development team preserved the school building's neoclassical exterior while repurposing the classrooms and administrative spaces into 20 units of affordable workforce housing. The new construction includes 40 single-room occupancy units for individuals with severe and chronic special needs.

“This is a really successful combination of a historic rehab of a much-revered structure of local significance with new construction that works in harmony with it and doesn't detract from the historic building,” says GCHP Project Manager Sara Meadows Tolleson.