Kevin Kelly, owner of Houmas House and Gardens on the east side of Ascension Parish and an investor in historic Donaldsonville, provided an update on the B. Lemann and Bro. renovation and proposed rental of three properties adjacent to Ascension Parish Government.
He joined Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan at City Hall for the Making Progress program broadcast live on March 24.
As discussed at a parish finance committee meeting in Gonzales earlier in the monthparish leaders hope to use the Lemann’s Farm Supply Building and two nearby properties along Mississippi Street to improve the quality of life for West Side citizens.
Plans are in place for the farm supply business to eventually relocate over the next two years to a more rural location.
The B. Lemann and Bro. building dates back to around 1885, according to Kelly. He said he first considered buying it about eight years ago.
Kelly and James Neville teamed up to buy the property and began its redevelopment last January. He expects the project to be completed in May and expects residents to start moving in in June.
The building, located at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Mississippi Street, qualified for historic tax credits and a federal government grant that covered about 40 percent of the nearly $15 million project.
One- and two-bedroom units of around 800 and 1,100 square feet will be included, and these will be preferred by artists.
“I’ve visited it and they are absolutely beautiful units,” he said.
In addition to common areas, Kelly said some of the units will feature architectural remnants of the historic building. Over 40 units will be in the original building and 12 units will be in the new property.
He added that a contractor could use the prime space, which is about 8,000 square feet, to meet a business need in the community.
“There are so many opportunities in this community for what citizens might want to go there,” Kelly said, mentioning ideas such as a cafe or a gym.
When discussing the Lemann Farm Supply building, he said he planned to renovate it the same way he planned the B. Lemann and Bro. building. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal funding for these projects has been suspended.
As a private developer, Kelly drafted a cooperative agreement with the parish government for a possible wellness center or vocational training campus.
“With cooperation, I think this whole city could change dramatically,” he said.
Sullivan thanked Kelly for her investment in the city’s historic district.
“I commend you for having the vision to come to the town of Donaldsonville and invest in the town,” the mayor said. “We hope this propels us into a position where people want to come to Donaldsonville because it’s a great place to work, live and play.”