Parish Council presented with medical facility renderings, approves loan to build affordable housing in St. Gabriel

A new medical complex planning to be built in Plaquemine will feature a free-standing emergency department, 22 patient exam rooms and lab services. Grace & Hebert Architects presented renderings of the facility to the parish council Oct. 23. 

COURTESY PHOTO/Grace & Hebert Architects

The Iberville Parish Council was presented architectural renderings of a $22 million medical facility to be built on 27 acres off La. 1 near Senator Gay Boulevard in Plaquemine at a special meeting Oct. 23.

“This facility is going to have the finest equipment that money can buy,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said. “It is going to be the finest facility on the west bank of the river and I guarantee you that. It is a first-class facility and I do not want this to fail.”

The council also gave approval to issue a $6.1 million loan commitment letter to a Mississippi-based company to build affordable housing in St. Gabriel.

Damage from Hurricane Gustav forced the closure of River West Medical Center in 2008 leaving the parish without a medical facility and forcing residents to seek treatment in other areas.

The 43,000 square-foot medical center is being designed by Grace & Hebert Architects and will be operated by Ochsner Health System. 

“This is a complex process,” said architect Gary J. “Jimmy” Hebert, Jr. “We have to make sure this thing functions the way they want it to.”

Hebert said bids are expected to go out in early December with construction beginning as early as February for a completion date of March 2014.

The parish is entering into a lease agreement with Ochsner to use the complex. Ochsner Health System owns and operates seven hospitals and more than 38 health centers throughout the state.

“This group wants to dance with the parish and we need to get behind this hospital,” Ourso said. “This land belongs to the citizens of the parish and any kind of additions have to come through the parish council.”

The complex will feature 24 patient exam rooms and lab and radiology services that will include X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound and mammography.

“Everything will be here and we can do on-site testing,” Ochsner  Baton Rouge’s Chief Executive Officer Eric McMillen said. “We will have a full-service lab and on the diagnostic side there will not be a whole lot that you would have to drive into Baton Rouge to get.”

The complex will have seven health care providers, including three primary care physicians, a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, an OB/GYN or certified nurse midwife and two rotating specialists on site at the clinic.

Funds to finance the project come from the parish’s share of more than $40 million in federal grant allocations under the Disaster Recovery Program for Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

“It really serves the public not just with minor improvements but something that will be long lasting,” manager of Iberville’s Community Development Block Grant program Thomas David said. “We will see the benefit not only in our lifetime but in our childrens’.”

The loan granted to New Horizons Group to build housing will serve as leverage money toward the developer’s construction of a 120-unit, multi-family apartment complex on a 16-acre site off La. 74 east of Plantation subdivision in St. Gabriel, David said.  

New Horizons Group must secure additional funding to complete the project, which includes a total cost of approximately $16.3 million, through tax credits or other financing.

The group was recommended to the council after reviewing proposals from different developers at various sites including Plaquemine, David said.

The project, called Windsor Court, will require Iberville to enter into a 30-year agreement with the developer which stipulates the parish can be refunded should the group renege on its commitment to construct “high-quality” affordable housing, David said.

According to the proposal, Windsor Court will have two and three-bedroom units ranging from $155-$650 for the two-bedroom units according to a family’s income.

New Horizons Group’s David Strange said the company has developed about 15,000 units throughout the Southeast.

“The money must be spent,” David said. “It was specifically allocated by Congress that it must be spent in this parish for affordable rental housing opportunities.”