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Historic school to be converted into apartments

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The Gulf Coast Housing Partnership will convert the former Scott Street Elementary School into an apartment complex and add a second building to the site on North 19th Street between Gracie and Fuqua streets.

The school, on the National Register of Historic Places, was last used as a Head Start location but has been closed for several years.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board took bids on the property last year and sold it to Gulf Coast Housing for $700,000, said Bob Cooper, the school system's director of facilities.

Noel James, the project manager for the nonprofit Gulf Coast Housing, said work could begin as early as summer and take about a year to finish, but would not provide any other details.

A permit filed with the city-parish indicates the $5 million project would put 20 apartment units in the school building and 23 in a new building.

The existing building is 18,350 square feet, and the new building will be 21,946 square feet.

The complex will offer four studio apartments, 16 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments for working-class tenants.

According to its Web site, Gulf Coast Housing was created in 2006 with the goal of building 10,000 affordable homes in hurricane-affected communities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

In Baton Rouge, Gulf Coast Housing has partnered with the Center for Planning Excellence to build a land bank out of small properties in Old South Baton Rouge, the area between downtown and LSU.

It also continues to work with the O'Brien House on a new facility for O'Brien's alcohol and drug rehabilitation center.

That project, at 1202 Main St., was set back in July when the building under construction caught fire.

Built in 1920, Scott Street Elementary was one of the first three modern schools built for black children in Louisiana at public expense and is the only one still standing.

On Monday afternoon, the building stood boarded up and quiet, though there was evidence that people have been spending nights inside.

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