FOX 8 Defenders: Touro Shakspeare could be restored, leased

The City’s opening up the Touro Shakspeare Home to residents and businesses to bid on restoring and leasing the property in Algiers. In a FOX 8 Defenders follow-up, our cameras got a rare look inside for the first time and a bird’s eye view of the 60,000 square foot building.
Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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From the street, you’d never know what’s beyond a small portico in the 26-hundred block of General Meyer Avenue in Algiers. Our drone camera captured the vast property and massive structure that is Touro Shakspeare.

“It’s just to me the architecture.. it’s just so detailed,” Arthur Ruiz told us in 2019. Born and raised in the area, he’s always been fond of the building. For the first time, our cameras got close enough to pick up some of those details such as the diamond patterned brick work on the front facade.

While Algiers didn’t flood in Hurricane Katrina, Touro Shakspeare, a former nursing home and alms house, suffered roof damage, and the building wasn’t properly secured. It was left open to the elements and vandals.

It wasn’t until mid 2019, around the time of our first FOX 8 defenders report on the building that the City erected a fence around it. Window and door openings that had been long exposed are now boarded up.

In an effort to breathe new life at Touro Shakspeare, the City’s now inviting residents and businesses to bid on renovating and leasing the property.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s an incredible building in Algiers. It’s such a great asset,” New Orleans City Council Member Kristin Palmer said. The historic home, built in the 1930′s, is restricted in how it can be used. A requirement was laid out decades ago by City benefactor Judah Touro. It must remain as something that would qualify as a modern-day alms house. “Elderly housing would fit under that category, housing for veterans would be great also because Federal City is also right there.. any potentially affordable housing, mixed use would work very well,” Palmer said.

During one of three open houses this month, our camera captured signs of water infiltration, graffiti at every corner, signs that point to people possibly living there, an overgrown courtyard, and a chapel with a 20-foot dome, which is a clear victim of vandals.

The home is in Palmer’s Council district, and she feels it’s prime real estate, adjacent to Behrman Park and across the street from Delgado’s West bank campus. She says it’s also eligible for historic tax credits.. “When you use state and federal tax credits, you can get up to 40-percent back on your renovation cost, which can really make the numbers work to your benefit especially for housing,” she said.

“It was just a peaceful place for the elderly to spend their last years on Earth,” Ruiz said. Like so many who call the area home, he prays Touro Shakspeare has better days ahead.

The third and final open house for interested bidders will be Thursday, March 25th, and the bid deadline is April 9th. Ruiz says there’s also an ongoing effort to nominate the home for the National Register of Historic Places, which he’s heavily involved in along with a local college student.

If you’ve got a consumer issue you’d like us to look into, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women or fill out our online complaint form.

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