YWCA to be demolished: Hospital foundation set to purchase property from Y

Published 8:27 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

After years of neglect and decline, the YWCA building on Plaza Street will soon be coming down.

DAILY NEWS PHOTO/Jesse Wright The YWCA facility is set to come down in the coming weeks.

The YWCA facility is set to come down in the coming weeks.

Sandy Bloom, the YWCA board chairman, said the sale of the YWCA’s land between the Bogalusa Medical Center Foundation and the board is nearly complete. She said on Tuesday she’d just signed the purchase agreement, and mailed it to Patrick Landry, who is representing the foundation.

“That’s not the active sale, just the agreement,” Bloom said.

Bloom would not release the amount of the sale yet, and said Landry would prefer to wait until the sale is final before releasing more details.

As part of the sale, Bloom said the YWCA board has agreed to pay for the teardown of the old building and remove the debris.

She expects the teardown to happen within weeks.

“They have 120 days to do the demolition and the abatement, and so I would say within the next month they’ll start on it,” she said.

Prior to the teardown, Bloom said she expects to open a cornerstone time capsule soon as part of a public event, although no date has been set for that.

Bloom said the old building deteriorated due to a lack of funding.

“The building, I think it was built it 1919, I am not sure,” Bloom said. “But you know, if you have no funding, and you have a building of that size and that age, it’s very hard to maintain it.”

City leaders have been looking at options for a new community center for a while, though the problem of funding has been a perennial issue. A new community center could cost as much as $8 million.

Last August, Mayor Wendy Perrette announced at a city meeting that the city did not receive any state grants for a new center and she floated the idea of using tax money to build a new center, which could combine the YWCA and the YMCA. She also suggested the city could pay for a new community center through a bond issue or a tax hike, though no plan exists as yet.

Bloom said the two groups are not yet unified, an important first step in the process, but they should be soon.

“There are a couple of things we’re looking at going forward once the contracts are in place and the building is demolished,” Bloom said. “One of those things is becoming unified with the YMCA. We have a memorandum of understanding, but we haven’t activated it yet.”

However, Bloom said the deal could get signed within weeks. A joint operation would financially strengthen the existing YMCA, but Bloom said the YWCA’s board wanted to make sure it remained true to its mission of aiding women.

“Basically, we’re going to endeavor to put the money we get from the sale of the Y back into the community in the form of support of the YMCA, as long as we’re able to come to an agreement and in the from of scholarships and finding to things that are important to women and families,” Bloom said.

Although the building’s days are numbered, Bloom said some of the items inside the old YWCA will be spared.

“We do have some items that are going to be available for sale,” she said.

But not everything will be sold and one day, when the new community center is built, there may be a few familiar objects alongside the new.

“We’re keeping our antiques thinking that someday there will be a new community center and they will have a place in that,” said Bloom.

It is not yet known what, if anything, the hospital board will do if it acquires the YWCA property. Our Lady of the Angels Hospital CEO Rene Ragas was not immediately available for comment.