Big Moola for NOLA

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A preliminary scheme for Charity Hospital's replacement.

On the heels of the Saints’ victory, the Big Easy had another big win this week, this time in the form of a $474.8 million FEMA payment. But preservationists have been dealt a major blow in their fight to save 70-year-old Charity Hospital in New Orleans, along with a tract of historic homes and structures in the city’s Mid-City district. For the past four years, Louisiana state officials have been at loggerheads with FEMA over the extent of Hurricane Katrina’s damages to Charity, which has been shuttered since the storm. On Wednesday, a federal arbitration panel ordered FEMA to pay nearly all of the requested replacement costs for the state-owned hospital. The ruling was a triumph for city and state officials who argued that Charity was more than 50 percent damaged by the hurricane and therefore eligible for replacement, instead of repair.

As AN reported in July 2009, the decision was seen as vital to advancing a Mid-City biomedical development plan that would place the new Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital (already funded by Congress) alongside a new LSU medical center to be built with state funds, revenue bonds, and FEMA’s compensation for Charity, formerly the school’s teaching hospital. Preservationists argued that the plan would destroy the iconic art deco hospital and a slew of historic structures, and pushed their ideas for an all-out retrofit of the building.

Charity Hospital, closed since 2005.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who applauded the panel’s decision, said $40 million in Community Block Grant money has already been set aside to find a new use for Charity—but with the National Trust still disputing the Mid-City development plans on environmental grounds, New Orleans is far from getting the medical care it needs.

2 Responses to “Big Moola for NOLA”

  1. Sandra Stokes says:

    That is not the correct graphic for the proposed state hospital. That is the proposed VA hospital.

    If you send an email address, I will be happy to send you the LSU AMC proposed design.

  2. Leo J. Blackman says:

    Methinks A/N is underplaying the preservation angle. We all swoon for “green architecture”, yet are eager to tear down a solidly built campus of great art-deco structures, then tear down an entire block of historic houses to build a fancy new hospital complex there. And pat ourselves on the back for it being sustainable.

    The smart and green and community friendly and way-less-expensive approach would have been to restore Charity Hospital. And while you’re at it – Bobby Jindal, FEMA et all, how about a real plan to restore the rest of New Orleans?

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