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University, Diocese reach agreement on hospital property purchase

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In an acquisition that will strengthen the area’s health care landscape, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has finalized an agreement with the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette to purchase a portion of the property that was once home to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.

Acquiring the 5.834-acre tract at West St. Mary Boulevard and St. Landry Street from the Diocese moves UL Lafayette closer to uniting its main campus with University Research Park and the athletics complex, a goal of its 2012 Master Plan.

“But this transformational moment for our University is about more than property – it’s about promise,” said Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. “In addition to providing space that’s necessary for our physical growth, this acquisition enables the fulfillment of a vision we have for advancing health care in the region.”

The University, the Diocese and Our Lady of Lourdes marked the purchase of the 5.834-acre tract with a Celebration of Strategic Growth on Wednesday.

The acreage UL Lafayette will acquire from the Diocese contains medical office buildings and other facilities that were part of the hospital complex and owned by Lourdes. The University plans to relocate its College of Nursing & Health Sciences to the site. With renovations, the tract and its buildings will become the nucleus of a health sciences campus.

Savoie said the property acquisition enables the University to pursue multiple 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.

“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 will transfer 1.411 acres adjacent to E.K. Long Gym at the corner of East St. Mary Boulevard and Girard Park Circle to the Diocese.

The 1.411-acre tract is valued at $860,000, according to the Act of Exchange signed Wednesday; the 5.834 acres the University purchased from the Diocese is valued at $4.175 million.

The state paid $3.315 million to compensate the Diocese for the difference in the values of the properties.

Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette said the exchanged land will be the site of a new Our Lady of Wisdom Church & Catholic Student Center, which is currently located across East St. Mary Boulevard from its future location.

“The Diocese is happy to partner with the University in fulfilling its vision for health care in Acadiana through this property purchase and land exchange. The University, Our Lady of Wisdom and the wider community will benefit from this agreement,” Deshotel said.

“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 continued: “Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Student Center and the University have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship that’s rooted in a common mission of preparing students as future leaders dedicated to improving our community. This agreement will only strengthen this partnership in the years to come.”

Dr. Kathy Healy-Collier, Acadiana Market president, Our Lady of Lourdes, said: “On behalf of our leadership, our teams and the thousands of UL Lafayette nursing graduates who have graced our hallways, we are thrilled with the partnership potential this health sciences campus brings to our region.

“Over 70 years ago, the Bishop of Lafayette asked our Sisters to bring a hospital to Lafayette and provide Catholic health care for those most in need. Today, I know they would be proud that their tradition of care will live on. As the connector to the UL Lafayette campus, the corner of St. Mary and St. Landry will continue impacting the families of Acadiana for many years to come,” Healy-Collier said.

UL Lafayette is in discussions with Our Lady of Lourdes for the acquisition of additional, undeveloped property that the hospital complex once encompassed. This 16-acre tract is bound by St. Landry and St. Julien streets. Properties, buildings and a parking structure comprising approximately 4 additional acres across St. Landry Street would also be included in the agreement between the University and Lourdes.

Photo caption: Dr. Joseph Savoie, left, UL Lafayette president, and Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette sign paperwork Wednesday to finalize the University’s purchase of a portion of the property that was once home to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. Photo credit: Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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