The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette have reached an agreement resulting in the university purchasing a portion of the property that was previously the location of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.
The property acquired is a 5.834-acre tract valued at $4.175 million located at West St. Mary Boulevard and St. Landry Street. In the agreement, the state paid $3.315 million, as well as transferring a 1.411-acre tract valued at $860,000 to the Diocese of Lafayette.
The land acquired by the university still contains medical office buildings and other facilities that had been part of Lourdes. The university intends to eventually relocate the College of Nursing and Health Sciences from Wharton Hall to the newly-acquired land, though this may not be for some time. As of now, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences will remain at Wharton Hall, according to Senior Communications Representative Eric Maron.
“Right now there will be no changes and College of Nursing is not relocating,” Maron wrote in an email to The Vermilion.
According to the university website, this acquisition better enables UL Lafayette to pursue its health sciences-related objectives.
“Among them: increasing the number of nursing and health sciences students it enrolls and graduates; expanding degree programs; enhancing existing partnerships with health providers and building others; creating collaborations with professional schools and health systems; and deepening relationships with biomedical and biopharmaceutical firms,” reads the university website.
University President Joseph Savoie said that partnering with the Diocese of Lafayette and acquiring this property has allowed the university the opportunity to meet this vision.
“Acquiring this property brings this vision into focus, and we’re grateful to have a partner like the Diocese of Lafayette who shares our commitment to strengthening health care in the region,” Savoie said.
As part of the agreement, the university also transferred 1.411 acres of land to the Diocese, located adjacent to E.K. Long Gym at the corner of East St. Mary Boulevard and Girard Park Circle. This land will be the location of a new Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center, according to Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette.
“The University’s growth will help it meet the critical need for educated, compassionate health care professionals, while Wisdom will have land available to build a new church and student center. Wisdom’s current facility is located on land leased from the University and it is no longer adequate to meet students’ spiritual and social needs,” Deshotel said.
Our Lady of Wisdom has been raising funds for the new church for many years. According to Reverend Patrick Broussard, the new church may be built within three years, though an architect has not yet been announced. The current church’s sanctuary holds around 450 people, while the new one would hold about 600.
Discussions related to the expansion of university property are still ongoing, as the university is in talks with Our Lady of Lourdes about acquiring another 16 acres of undeveloped land bound by St. Landry Street and St. Julien Avenue.