A new, dynamic partnership for New Orleans’ and Algiers’ health and economic programming is the first of its kind for LSU Health Foundation. By assuming operations of the Fitness Center at Federal City, this partnership with the Algiers District Development (ADD) is helping support initiatives to create a sustainable community in Algiers and the West Bank area of New Orleans.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the new venture, and officially rebranding the space LSU Health Fitness, was held April 20, 2018. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Senator Troy Carter, LSU Chancellor Dr. Larry H. Hollier, LSU Health Foundation Board Chair Carroll W. Suggs, and LSU Health Foundation President and CEO Matthew Altier were on hand for the event and led the celebration.
“We are very excited about what this partnership means to the neighborhood and Algiers community,” said Mr. Altier.
ADD Board Chair, Sen. Carter, agrees. “This is a game-changing agreement bringing well-known and well-respected health services to the people of Algiers and brings an even higher level of quality service to the area. The LSU Health Foundation will be an outstanding and long-term partner for the people of Algiers and a catalyst for new growth and progress within the Federal City site,” he said.
“New Orleans Riverside is a place to live, work and play,” added Kathy Lynn Honaker, Executive Director of ADD. “We are pleased the Foundation is working with us to incorporate health care services here.”
LSU Health Fitness, which boasts 45,000 square feet of recreational and fitness space, originally was built as a Navy Fitness Center for the military base. In 2011, the state and ADD invested $6.7 million in a five-year, three-phase renovation that expanded a small fitness center into a state of the art community wellness center. A swimming pool was added to the site in Phase 2.
In addition to an active swim lesson schedule and aqua aerobics, the LSU Health Fitness boasts summer camps, recreation programs for adults and active Silver Sneakers members, and sporting and athletic events. The pool and recreation and fitness center are open to members. Memberships are very affordable, Ms. Honaker, said, adding “The LSU Health Fitness is open to all and just a 10-minute drive from downtown, making it easily accessible.”
One of the more popular offerings is Little Tiger Sports, an athletic sports program designed to enhance motor and creative skills for children as young as two-years-old. “We’re constantly adding to and updating our programming to meet community need,” said Chris Kletecka, Executive Director of Business Ventures at LSU Health Foundation. “An area our members immediately emphasized as underserved was healthy lifestyle programming for children under five. Our GM, John Freitas, put together a fantastic program that we’ve expanded multiple times to meet the demand.”
Phase 3 of the project saw the development of a café and health and wellness site. In May 2018, for the café opened for business. The café, called the Tiger Den, combines healthy eating and innovative flavors into regional favorites. Dining in the Tiger Den Café does not require a membership and is open to the public.
“The name of LSU stands for quality health,” said Ms. Honaker. “It means so much to have that kind of support, a partner really committed to helping us create a healthy community.”
“LSU Health Fitness and our community partnerships serve as an excellent model for us,” said Mr. Altier. “The LSU Health Foundation is poised to enter into other service activities with public and private partners that will support not only our Health Sciences Center and its mission to educate students and serve the healthcare needs of our community, but to also assist in the economic development of New Orleans.”
As a part of the Foundation’s partnership, LSU Health Foundation is exploring additional healthcare partnerships to place at Federal City. “Bringing convenient and accessible healthcare options into the Algiers community is very important to us.” said Mr. Kletecka. “LSU Health Fitness represents more than a place to work out, it represents a healthy lifestyle choice, and that’s what we deliver to the community.”
The LSU Health Fitness is located at 2220 Constitution Street and is open 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Individual membership starts at just $49 per month, and youth memberships are available at $25 for three months. For more information about activities and membership, please call 504.619.9960 or visit the website at www.lsuhealthfitness.com.
In 2005, the Department of the Navy announced the closure of the Naval Support Activity New Orleans in Algiers, which housed the local naval base in New Orleans. City and state elected officials alongside ADD, Algiers Economic Development Foundation, and many other local entities worked to save the base, securing the approval needed to keep the base open and transfer the Marines Forces Reserve to the 28 acres in Federal City. To date, the state has invested more than $150 million in the project.
Along with the LSU Health Fitness and the Marine Forces Reserve, Federal City currently includes a hotel, the Maritime Military Academy, the Algiers Auditorium, several local businesses, a daycare center, a U.S. Coastguard office, and housing.