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New Orleans developer buys Katrina-damaged school

BAY ST. LOUIS — A New Orleans developer has bought the Hurricane Katrina damaged Second Street Elementary School in Bay St. Louis and plans to give the historic landmark new life.

Developer Jim MacPhaille tells WLOX-TV he is seeking ideas.

Many in town are just happy to see the building still standing.

“I would hate for this building to be torn down. This was one of the reasons we decided to move into old town was this beautiful, old building,” said Carol LeFlore.

“Don’t tear the building down; leave the structure as it is,” said Lisette Greer.

The 57,000-square-foot structure was built in the 1920s and was damaged in Hurricane Katrina I 2005.

“We have a 40,000-square-foot school we bought in New Orleans…. We gutted it and renovated it. We did a mixed-use project. We have 13 condos and then we did two houses,” said MacPhaille. “So we’re familiar with old buildings; we’ve been doing it for 25 years.”

He said whether a similar concept or even a luxury hotel could work here remains to be seen.

“It’s a process you’ve got to go through. You’ve got to meet with the neighbors, meet with the city and come up with a plan that works for everybody,” said MacPhaille.

Greer said she’d liked to see it turned into a youth center and a place where family events could be held.

LeFlore said a fine arts center where the kids can take theater classes, dance classes and music classes would be good.

MacPhaille said the possibilities are endless, and he’s open to all ideas. The developer said he’ll look for options until the first of the year and isn’t planning to make any concrete decisions about the building’s future until after that.



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