HRI Communities Completes Renovation of New Iberia’s School Days Apartments

NEW IBERIA, La. – On Feb. 10, HRI Communities hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the rehabilitation and modernization of School Days Apartment, 415 Center Street in New Iberia. In attendance were Louisiana Housing Corporation Executive Director Joshua Hollins, Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard, Iberia Parish School District Superintendent Heath Hulin, Acadiana Planning Commission CEO Monique Boulet, City of New Iberia Department of Planning & Zoning Director Jane Braud, and First Horizon Community Investment Group Director, Amanda Ward. Josh Collen, President of HRI Communities, served as emcee for the event having overseen the redevelopment of the project which began in January of last year. Impetus led the design-build team on the project, which was its first Louisiana renovation project following its rebranding from Palmisano. Leasing is underway and interested parties can find more information here.

“It is a privilege to have renovated this incredible apartment community, which we converted nearly 30 years ago from the historic New Iberia High School. The comprehensive upgrades to the apartments and common areas will make the entire property resilient and sustainable for decades to come, and raises the entire property to a first-class standard, ensuring that this senior housing development remains an important asset to downtown New Iberia,” said Collen.

“We’re proud to report that expansion of the existing New Iberia Downtown Historic Cultural District allowed HRI Communities, LLC to restore this historic Classical Revival building built in 1926, and take advantage of state historic tax credits in order to subsidize rehabilitation work on the building, and it’s systems,” said New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt.

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HRI acquired the historic former New Iberia High School in 1994. The school was built in 1926 and is New Iberia Parish’s only Classical Revival building. The three-story building served as a high school until 1966, and a middle school thereafter, until it was permanently closed in 1990. HRI performed an adaptive reuse of the building into 65 affordable, senior apartments and community facilities in 1995.

The nearly $14 million project included substantial renovations to the 65 existing one-bedroom units, all of which are designated for seniors that are 55 or older and have long-term affordability restrictions. Additionally, an expansion of the program/amenity space into the historic but vacant auditorium was completed. Focused on mitigating the effects of aging, the renovation also provided for a comprehensive restoration of the building’s exterior envelope, including critical weatherproofing enhancements.

“I would like to thank HRI Communities for investing in our community and our citizens. Not only does this project preserve our historic former high school, but it also provides much needed affordable housing for our seniors. This 14 million dollar project involved a complete replacement of all of the building’s systems – HVAC, water heaters, electric fixtures, plumbing fixtures, kitchen and bathroom cabinets and countertops, appliances, and laundry equipment. With this extensive renovation our seniors will be assured affordable housing for years to come. Again, thank you HRI Properties,” said Parish President Richard.

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The renovation brought new backup generator, HVAC systems, water heaters, electric fixtures, plumbing fixtures, kitchen and bathroom cabinets/countertops and more.

“We are excited to work with another Acadiana community, bringing catalytic investments to Iberia Parish,” said Boulet. “It takes a united effort from all involved to complete a project like this. Thanks to HRI and congratulations to Iberia Parish for another great project! I am proud of our partnerships and our work in Acadiana!”

All of the aforementioned improvements adhered to the Enterprise Green Communities best practices for energy efficiency and sustainability including the use of only Energy Star appliances/electric fixtures, upgraded insulation, and water conserving plumbing fixtures. Additionally, the entirety of School Days’ rehabilitation project adhered to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation, thus guaranteeing the appropriate treatment and respect of the National Register building’s historical significance.

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Financing partners for the project included the newly merged First Horizon Bank and IberiaBank as both the construction lender and tax credit investor. Enhanced Capital is purchasing the State Historic Tax Credits generated by the renovation. The Louisiana Housing Corporation awarded the project 9 percent low-income housing tax credits and assigned an existing loan to facilitate the preservation of much needed affordable housing for seniors.

“First Horizon is proud to take part in the renovation of School Days and help sustain affordable housing in the New Iberia community.  Helping communities thrive through affordable housing is vital. The demand for safe, quality, affordable housing continues both in Louisiana and around the nation, and it remains a top priority for First Horizon as well,” said Ward. 

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