A confidentiality agreement between UL Lafayette and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center is keeping both parties quiet about the hospital’s potential sale of its St. Landry Street property to the university, although Lourdes said it continues to seek alternatives.
“We’re looking at several opportunities to partner with developers to actually develop that site ourselves,” said Elisabeth Arnold, director of community relations at Lourdes. Because of the confidentiality agreement, she said, she was unable to disclose further information.
Gerald Boudreaux, chairman of the board of directors for Lourdes, was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.
If acquired by UL, the $34-million, 25-acre site could be a major arterial connection for the university that would link its academic campus to the still-developing University Commons, properties on West Congress Street that include the Cajundome and UL’s Research Park.
Major considerations for the Lourdes property include transferring the College of Nursing out of Wharton Hall and onto the Lourdes campus. The plan’s principal architect, Steve Oubre, also said at its Feb. 18 unveiling that a discussion to partner there with LSU Medical School is “becoming even more of a reality as we move forward.”
Details of the plan — developed by the Lafayette-based firm Oubre co-founded, Architects Southwest — proved that uniting the two campuses was a high priority for the university, but achieving that unity will rely heavily on UL’s acquisition of the Lourdes property. The St. Landry corridor — dubbed “The Path of Knowledge” — would be crucial in connecting the academic campus to proposed developments at the University Commons, which could include a research village, performing arts center, 700-seat amphitheater and a hotel.
Acadiana Business reported in August 2012 that demolition of the old Lourdes hospital building was set to begin in January of this year, although it does not appear dismantlement has begun.
Master Plan renderings available on a WordPress site dedicated to the project (ullafayettemasterplan.wordpress.com) show that the university intends to reconstruct most of the property at the Lourdes site if its acquired, although more detailed descriptions are not yet accessible. A faculty e-mail announcing the plan’s unveiling said it would be made available online the same week, but it has not yet been released.
Although details of the sale’s negotiations remain uncertain, one university course is already taking special interest in the property.
Professors Dan Burkett and Corey Saft of the architecture and design school are leading a second-year design course that’s requiring students to envision the property’s potential and develop a room-sized model out of cardboard. They said they expect the models to start taking shape by the end of March.