By Kelly Boggs, Editor
PINEVILLE – Louisiana College announced on Feb. 14 the college’s agreement to purchase and renovate the former Joe D. Waggonner Federal Building in Shreveport to serve as the home of LC’s Judge Paul Pressler School of Law.
[img_assist|nid=7169|title=LC Law School|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=75]“We are delighted to announce this decision,” said LC President Joe Aguillard. “The Federal Building offers all the space we will need to serve our students and provide a superior program of legal education.”
One of Shreveport’s largest landmarks, the building that will house the law school is situated near the Northern Louisiana city’s main business district.
Adjacent to the Shreveport Convention Center, the building is also located near the U.S. District Court for the Western District of La., and the La. Second Circuit Court of Appeal, LC indicated in a press release.
Original plans had the law school being housed in the CBN/United Mercantile Building, also located in downtown Shreveport. On Sept. 1, 2010, LC announced that $3.1 million of the historic building’s purchase price would be donated to the college by the building’s owners.
[img_assist|nid=7170|title=Louisiana College's Judge Paul Pressler School of Law building|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=384] “While it was a very generous offer from the owners, who are from New York, we never took possession of the building,” Aguillard said. “When we assessed the specific needs of the law school, providing for those needs at the United Mercantile Building was not going to be cost- effective.”
It was suggested to LC officials that it would be wise to reconsider the Federal Building and compare costs. “When we did that, it was clear that even though the Federal Building would require significant renovation, in the long run it would be more cost-effective than the United Mercantile Building.”
Originally listed for sale at $1.5 million, LC purchased the Federal Building from Harold Rosbottom Bankruptcy for $400,000, according to public records.
“This is a final decision that makes sense to everyone,” said Michael Johnson, Dean of the Pressler School of Law. “Our students will love the location and space of the Federal Building and its many unique features.”
A description of the property, obtained online, indicates the Federal Building consists of eight floors and 152,000 square feet. Among its amenities are: 5 high speed elevators, three courtrooms with all support facilities, an attached garage with 300 parking spaces.
The building, which has been vacant for several years, will require an eight-month asbestos abetment process, followed by renovation, LC said in a press release.
LC officials have yet to disclose cost estimates for remediation and renovation of the Federal Building, but Michael Berlin, an agent with Coldwell Banker Commercial Dowling Beauavais and Associates of Shreveport who closed the LC deal, told Alexandria’s daily newspaper, The Town Talk, costs could be in the $10 million range.
“They [LC officials] claim the money is in place,” Liz Swain, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority in Shreveport, told The Town Talk. “They’ve gone out and gotten private donations, and so there’s not going to be any investment by government or quasi-government entities.”
“Like other private institutions, our law school will be funded by the donations of interested persons,” Johnson said. “This presents an historic opportunity for those who desire to help reinforce America’s moral and legal foundations, preserve liberty, and make a lasting impact upon the culture, and we are grateful that there are many who share those ideals.”
“This is an exciting development for downtown Shreveport and our entire community,” Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover told The Town Talk. “It’s a classic win-win situation for all involved.”
School officials are working steadily on all aspects of the start-up, including the approval and accreditation application processes through the American Bar Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The law school recently hired Bruce W. Green, who was founding dean of the Liberty University School of Law in 2004, to serve as Director of Academic Affairs and Faculty Development.
Green is the former Chief Counsel of the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy and Chief Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund.
The school, named for Judge Paul Pressler, a retired appellate judge who was instrumental in the Southern Baptist Convention’s conservative resurgence, expects to begin classes in August 2012 with 60 students and seven faculty. Officials project enrollment to eventually reach 300 students with approximately 25 faculty.