LHC Celebrates the Grand Opening of Lemann Art Lofts in Downtown Donaldsonville

October 28, 2022

DONALDSONVILLE, LA – The Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) today announced the grand opening of the Lemann Art Lofts in Historic Downtown Donaldsonville, Louisiana. The Lemann Art Lofts is a historic restoration of the Bernard (B.) Lemann & Bro., Inc. building located on the block between Mississippi Street, Crescent Park, and Railroad Avenue.

“This is not only a historic preservation effort, it is a shining example of resilient building practices using FORTIFIED and Enterprise Green construction techniques that will protect its residents from storms and ensure the building is prosperous for years to come,” said Joshua G. Hollins, LHC Executive Director. “LHC is proud to have invested $5.7M in CDBG-DR PRIME funds and $446K in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) to help bring this historic building back into commerce in Downtown Donaldsonville.”

PRIME is a competitive program and, through its design, requires housing to feature substantial disaster-resilience characteristics and requires mixed-income housing with either (a) market-rate units and LIHTC units affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% AMI, or (b) LIHTC units averaging affordability at or below 60% AMI.

The original Lemann Building was awarded a FORTIFIED Multifamily Roof Designation, while the Lemann Townhomes were awarded a FORTIFIED Multifamily Silver Designation; one of the first in the program. Some of the construction specifications include enhanced nailing, a sealed roof deck, and locked down edges to increase its ability to weather a storm. Other features include impact-resistant shingles, impact protection, wind and rain-resistant attic vents, and reinforced soffits.

The Bernard (B.) Lemann & Bro, Inc. building dates back some 150 years to 1877 when founder Jacob Lemann purchased two lots in its current location. Construction began on the new building designed by architect James Freret. The building was opened in February of 1878 offering dry goods, clothing, groceries, and numerous other items popular for a mercantile store of the day. The store closed in the early 1990s and went on to serve as the Donaldsonville Museum for a short period of time. After the closing of the museum, the building stood empty for over 20 years.

The building was purchased and restored in partnership with James Neville and Kevin Kelly with a total estimated investment of over $15 million dollars. The building, now known as the Lemann Art Lofts, is a sprawling 55,000 square-foot mixed-use residential and commercial building featuring 42 housing units on the renovated second and third floors of the Lemann building and a smaller new development to the immediate rear of the building facing historic Crescent Park. The first floor will house the recently announced Parish of Ascension Early Childhood Learning Center.

The project was a partnership among the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the Louisiana Office of Community Development, Home Bank, Stonehenge Capital, Boston Financial Investment Management and co-owners James Neville and Kevin Kelly. The project was designed by HCI Architects, a division, constructed by Impetus (formerly known as Palmisano) Construction, and will be managed by HRI Properties.

“It’s been a long-time coming, but we are so happy to see this landmark achievement for the City of Donaldsonville,” said co-owner James Neville of Neville Development. “We are proud to be able to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the City of Donaldsonville and hope that our investment has made a remarkable contribution to the efforts to improve the lives of the community and bring continued economic impact to the community.”

“There were numerous presentations and recruited developers to believe in this vision, but we are so blessed that the Lemann family partnered with Mr. Neville and Mr. Kelly back in 2019 to begin this journey. They have overcome so much adversity with the pandemic, the labor shortage, Hurricane Ida, and the immense inflated construction costs, it has been nothing short of a miracle that this project made it to the finish line,” said Mayor Leroy J Sullivan, Sr., Mayor of the City of Donaldsonville. “Our community is forever grateful for the time and investment of all the partners who made this possible and know that there will be much more to come to continue the growth of our community.”

The Lemann Art Lofts are now welcoming residents and features affordable rental rates. To get rental information or to tour available units, interested individuals should contact 225.224.8092. The rental office is touring daily (Monday through Friday) from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Visit the Lemann Art Lofts website to learn more. The Lemann Art Lofts is an Equal Housing Opportunity property.

Rachel Haney
Director of Public Relations
Cell: 504-920-9569

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