Blake Pontchartrain: The naval base on Poland Avenue_lowres


Hey Blake,

What can you tell me about the past, present and future of the old Navy base at Dauphine Street and Poland Avenue?


Dear John,

  There could be new life coming to that long-abandoned property, which for more than 90 years was a hub for military operations in the city. In recent years, the formal name for the 25-acre property was the Naval Support Activity, but it was known for many years as the Port of Embarkation, a major shipping point for military supplies. In 2011, the property was closed as part of a base realignment that also converted the Navy's Algiers operations into Federal City.

  The facility at Poland Avenue near the Industrial Canal was built in 1919 for use by the Army as a general logistical depot. Two buildings there were leased to the Port of New Orleans until World War II, when the site became a point of embarkation for soldiers. The facility was known as the New Orleans Army Base when it was turned over to the Navy in 1966. In the 1970s, a headquarters for the local Naval Reserve was built at the site. In 1975, the three buildings on the site were renamed the F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex, in honor of the Louisiana congressman who chaired the House Armed Services Committee.

  The Naval Support Activity closed in 2011 and two years later was donated to the city. Last year, the city entered into a lease partnership to redevelop the property with EMDRC Partners LLC, a company led by developer Joe Jaeger. According to spokesman Greg Buisson, the first step will be an 18-month feasibility study to determine the type of redevelopment that would best serve the site and the neighborhood. Buisson said that could include commercial, retail, light industrial, warehouse and city administrative support services.

  Construction is expected to take an additional three years once design work is complete.