Community Sailing New Orleans — a nonprofit organization with a mission to open Lake Pontchartrain to everyone and to remove the physical and economic obstacles that limit its use — will begin construction in September 2023 on a new $4.5 million multipurpose headquarters building at West End.

The 4,500-square-foot, two-story building, at 101 N. Roadway St., will provide a fully ADA-compliant, permanent headquarters with classrooms suited for year-round STEM and maritime career development programs for students. Thanks to the new building, CSNO will be able to expand its capacity to accommodate the high demand for its youth and adaptive sailing social-impact programs.

The new facility will replace temporary office space that CSNO has used since it began offering programs in 2021. Programming will continue during construction, using some off-site facilities within the harbor. Construction is scheduled to be completed by July 2024.

The new building was made possible thanks to the continued, generous support of Libby and Robert Alexander, who provided vital funding for the new headquarters as well as helped launch the sailing center, which is named in their honor. Additional generous support came from Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, the Boysie Bollinger Fund, and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust.

“From its startup in 2021, CSNO has grown to serving 1,350 participants by 2023, and it’s well on its way to serving 2,300 in 2025,” said New Orleans Community Sailing Board President John Manard. “The pinch point was classroom space — a problem only solved by a permanent building. The angels arrived in the form of the Sailing Center’s namesakes, Libby and Robert Alexander, as well as four other extraordinarily generous donors, and 70 more of us. This building is a testament to their faith and caring, and we shall do all in our power to deserve and honor their generosity.”

CSNO was founded with a core mission to serve the low- and moderate-income communities in metro New Orleans by providing access to Lake Pontchartrain, a community asset that has been historically inaccessible to large segments of the population. The center’s programs are designed to break down barriers and build inclusive environments, with youth STEM programs, summer camps, adaptative sailing for those with a wide range of abilities, programs for military veterans and more. CSNO’s vision is to utilize the sport of sailing as a platform to develop independence and self-confidence, improve communication, foster teamwork, and acquire a deep respect for the marine environment.