The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging has acquired the long-abandoned Gus Young Fire Station on Gus Young Avenue with plans to redevelop the blighted property into an intergenerational center that will provide services to seniors as well as youths.
The acquisition came through an intergovernmental transfer with the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, which had been given the title to several abandoned fire stations by the city-parish during the Kip Holden administration, according to RDA President and CEO Chris Tyson.
The CoA paid just $10,000 for the property, which was appraised in 2018 at $75,000 but needs more than $60,000 in repairs. The CoA will pay for the renovation, says state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, also the CoA board treasurer.
Marcelle says the deal is a win-win for the community, restoring a blighted property to commerce while also enabling the CoA to provide additional services to multiple generations.
“Intergenerational centers are not new in other places but it is a new idea here,” says Marcelle, who explains the center will enable elderly CoA volunteers—retired educators, say—to tutor local youths, who, in turn, will help train CoA clients in things like computer skills.
The facility will also serve as the CoA feeding site for that area. The agency currently partners with a nonprofit that has a facility on Gus Young Avenue, but Marcelle says it will be more efficient to move those facilities to the old fire house once renovations are complete.
The acquisition is the second in just three months by the CoA, which for years was underfunded but has been flush with revenues since 2017 when voters approved a dedicated millage that generates more than $9 million per year for the agency.
In December, the CoA acquired a 2.8-acre property on North 18th Street, near Fuqua Street, that will serve as its administrative offices and the hub of its Meals on Wheels and senior center hot meals services.