Parish breaks ground on Aycock Barn redevelopment in Old ArabiApr 6th, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: News
Parish leaders broke ground on a project March 29 that will transform the Aycock Barn, located at 409 Aycock Street in Old Arabi, into a multi-use open air market. The $2.1 million project is scheduled to be completed by August or September of this year.
“I think this will be a great space for the community,” said District A Councilman Ray Lauga, who represents Old Arabi. “It’s going to have a lot of nice amenities, and I think it will be a really positive development for all of Old Arabi.”
Before Hurricane Katrina, the parish-owned Aycock Barn was used primarily as storage space for the parish maintenance department. For years prior to that, the 4-H Club leased the barn from the parish for district livestock exhibitions.
Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding a complete overhaul of the facility. When complete, the Aycock Barn will serve as an open-air market where residents can purchase produce or seafood. The redeveloped barn will also offer recreational fountains for children and, potentially, meeting and performance space.
“There will be tons of different uses for it,” Lauga said. “This was a great opportunity to take this blighted piece of property and turn it into something positive for the community.”
The new facility will be equipped with a 1,500-pound ice machine and a drainage system so commercial fishermen can transport their catch straight to the market. Lauga said he thinks the location in Old Arabi will make it easier to connect fishermen with people interested in purchasing fresh seafood.
“We have a better chance of drawing people from the Bywater area and New Orleans right there in Arabi as opposed to asking them to drive all the way to Delacroix and Hopedale,” Lauga said.
Elizabeth McDougall, tourism director for the parish, agreed.
“Here we have all this great seafood, and now we’ll have a place where visitors can come and get it,” McDougall said. “I’m really excited about the project.”
Lauga said he also hopes to tie the Aycock Barn to the nearby old parish jail through a walking trail that will tour historic sites in the area.
Other recovery events held throughout the parish this week included the grand opening of the parish maintenance garage and the parish maintenance shed, both located at 120 Agriculture Street in Chalmette, March 30.