The nonprofit group that owns the Evangeline Hotel in downtown Lafayette has formed an advisory committee to determine the best use of the historic building.

The Lafayette Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation met May 16 with several community leaders regarding the building, which houses the Evangeline Elderly Apartments, at 302 Jefferson St. The agency is looking for the best long-term use of the building amid the economic activity in the downtown area.

Another meeting scheduled for Tuesday was postponed.

“There is a lot going on downtown,” said Russell Castille, LNEDC member who chairs the committee that oversees the building. “LNEDC is exploring how we fit into the exciting progress happening around us. The Evangeline is home to many long-term residents that will remain first priority as we consider all our options.”

The building has 85 one-bedroom units with about 70 residents, all of which are senior citizens who are in poverty, LNEDC officials said. Built in 1928, the building was donated to the LNEDC in 1994.

If the tenants were to be moved, "It would be a big task," Castille said. "I don't foresee that occurring in the near future. We have a great concern for the well-being of our tenants."

Many of the residents are local people, he said. 

Members of the committee include Anita Begnaud, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority; Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority; Kevin Blanchard, chief operating officer with Southern Lifestyle Development; Lavon Burbank, Louisiana community development relationship manager at Woodforest National Bank, and Bently Senegal with Our Lady Of Lourdes.

The committee met last month and will meet monthly, officials said.

The six-story Evangeline Hotel has served as a place for travelers and prominent social gatherings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only two historic downtown buildings that is over two stories high.

As for the condition of the building, Castille said "I wouldn't say tip-top shape but I would say pretty good shape. We have put forth a good effort at keeping it up."

LNEDC is a nonprofit organization with a goal of improving the economic well-being of Lafayette Parish. It offers financial assistance to new and expanding businesses to increase job opportunities and small business growth in distressed neighborhoods.

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