Cultural preservation experts have kicked off plans to transform Arnaudville, a small, historical Acadiana town, into a French immersion hub.

Project planners will use the vacant 25,000-foot St. Luke Hospital as a business incubator and French cultural center, Jacqueline Cochran, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, said in a news release issued Sunday.

The first step involves sizing up cultural assets, planning the facility and creating a business outline, Cochran said.

The foundation partnered with officials in St. Landry and St. Martin parishes and the New Orleans consulting firm Ardyn M. Thriffiley & Associates.

Organizers will survey local artists, French speakers, cultural nonprofits and businesses.

They hope the plan will revitalize the region by drawing on its French cultural heritage for the town of about 1,060 people.

St. Luke Hospital will also host students enrolled in the Jacques Arnaud French Studies Collective’s French immersion program.

While conducting linguistic research, participants don’t speak or hear anything but French. The program has hosted students from LSU, Tulane and University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The Arnaudville Cultural Master Plan will centralize students at the hospital, Cochran said.

The project is funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant and matching funds from St. Landry Parish and St. Martin Parish governments.

Planning for the first phase is scheduled to wrap up June 30, Cochran said.