Charity Hospital: The Times-Picayune covers 175 years of New Orleans history
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Updated: February 01, 2012
Free medical care for the poor has been part of New Orleans for nearly all of its three centuries, a thread of the city’s narrative dominated by the downtown Charity Hospital that opened in 1939 as a technological, medical and architectural wonder.
Since the legislative debates that preceded its construction, the Charity Hospital story intertwines with the Louisiana’s populist traditions, byzantine battles in government and higher education, and the ongoing effort to grow a medical education enterprise of national renown.
The Art Deco building, which now sits dormant on Tulane Avenue as a new facility rises in Mid-City, was the sixth Charity structure since the institution opened in 1736 as L’Hospital des Pauvres de la Charite. Over two centuries, what began as a modest operation on the corner of Chartres and Bienville streets had grown into a million square feet with almost 3,000 beds, the second largest hospital in the United States at the time.
The hospital was a vision of Huey Long, the fallen governor and U.S. senator. During his tenure and after his 1935 assassination, Louisiana saw growth of existing Charity hospitals, the construction of new sites and the opening of a public medical school at Louisiana State University. In a swipe at the private Tulane University, the populist Long said, “We’re going to have the medical school, and every qualified poor boy can go.”
Tulane and LSU would for years educate physicians together in the giant downtown hospital. Charity garnered a reputation as one of the best hospitals nationally to train for emergency medicine: A physician educated at Charity was unlikely to encounter a circumstance not seen in New Orleans. For the region’s poor, Charity served as their medical home, usually from birth.
Yet for its successes, Charity almost immediately endured political wrangling and chronic financial shortfalls in a state whose populace seemingly wanted more than it was willing to pay for. In 1963, LSU and Tulane administrators — sometimes at odds — together railed against a process that allowed the governor to stack the Charity governing board. Over the years, control of the hospital has moved from the governor’s board to a legislative-chartered health care body to the LSU System.
Dream of joint medical complex dies as VA prepares to drive pilings
By Bruce Eggler, The Times-Picayune | Updated: August 21st, 2011
As federal contractors begin construction of a Veterans Affairs medical complex in Mid-City, their work will include preparations for a central energy plant along Tulane Avenue. Plans for the adjacent University Medical Center, a state teaching hospital to succeed Charity Hospital, call for its energy plant to be just blocks away on the same thoroughfare.
This is despite the months officials spent talking about a shared central power plant for what amounts to one 70-acre campus bound by South Claiborne Avenue, Tulane Avenue, South Rocheblave Street and Canal Street. Even earlier this year, state planners said they remained in talks with the VA about a shared energy plant.
Now the VA is ready to move forward with construction, with plans to open in 2014 using $995 million in confirmed appropriations from Congress. The state project, meanwhile, has suffered numerous delays. It is projected to open in February 2015, though that presumes quick resolution of a financing scheme and business plan that will not be settled any earlier than September.
VA facilities executive Mark Brideweser stepped gingerly around UMC's circumstance. But he was clear: "We will have our own energy plant."
The separate plans highlight the evolution of the two medical centers from visions of a true joint project to talk of shared facilities and, finally, to the reality of two adjacent complexes with considerably fewer "synergies" than what state and federal authorities once agreed were possible. Even the prospect of any remaining cooperation is up in the air.
More than 26 neighborhood and community organizations hosted a presentation on July 26, 2011 where State Treasurer John Kennedy explained the fiscal realities of the proposed UMC Medical Center. See the Treasurer's opening comments via video before he began an indepth question and answer session.
Mr. Robert “Bobby” Yarborough
University Medical Center Management Corporation Board
P.O. Box 3374
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Re: Consideration of FHL/RMJM Hillier Charity Hospital Feasibility Study
Dear Mr. Yarborough:
On May 3, 2011, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) submitted a legal opinion by Smith & Fawer, LLC, Attorneys at Law, to the University Medical Center Management Corporation (UMCMC) board confirming the currently proposed model was not the only option available to the board to build the new UMC under the terms of the August 28, 2009 Memorandum of Understanding establishing the UMCMC and the articles of incorporation of the UMCMC. It states “the alternative proposal by architects RMJM Hillier could theoretically be implemented by the Board of Directors of the UMCMC without violating the governing documents of the UMCMC.” The June 13, 2011 directive from the Governor furthers the UMCMC Board’s obligation to fully examine alternative ways to achieve a first class academic medical center for the state – regardless of preconceived notions.
On June 2, 2011, the Kaufman Hall and Associates study was released. Completed for the UMCMC board, it confirmed and further elaborated on the risks exposed in the state’s own Verité Study. The conclusions reached in these studies emphasized that exploring all alternatives that can provide a state-of-the-art medical academic center is necessary if the project is to be responsibly built and sustained over time.
And in a letter dated June 13, 2011 to the UMCMC board, Governor Jindal directed the board to “explore all options to maximize the benefits and outcomes of the [University Medical Center] in order to create a first rate medical center.” The Governor added that the board “should consider options even beyond those in existing studies.”
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) is prepared to provide the firm or firms chosen by the UMCMC board to examine “all alternatives” and “explore all options” with a copy of the FHL/RMJM Hillier Charity Hospital Feasibility Study and all supporting documents. FHL asks the board to give us notice to make arrangements to have the architects and other professionals available to meet with the analysts, as well as make a presentation to the UMCMC Board.
The Governor’s directive is to look at all alternatives to create the best medical center we can afford to build, not restrict the project due to preconceived limitations. We take him at this word. It would be irresponsible and inexcusable to exclude the only already existing, legislatively-charged, in-depth study of a viable alternative that could save time and money. This $600,000 study can provide valuable information so the new medical center can be built of any size (with room to expand), with all the technology, with all of the equipment – all of the bells and whistles – without further encumbering the state with additional borrowing or other onerous obligations. This could allow money to attract the intellectual capital essential to making the UMC a world class institution that serves the healthcare, education, research and economic interests of the state and its entire people.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana stands ready to assist you.
Director at Large, Board of Directors
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
New Orleans City Council votes to close streets in hospital footprint
By Bruce Eggler, The Times-Picayune | Updated: June 3, 2011
Despite the objections of Councilwoman Stacy Head, the New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to give up the city's ownership of street rights of way on the site of the planned $1.2 billion state teaching and research hospital near the Central Business District.
View full sizeDavid Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune archive The University Medical Center site was photographed in January. Critics of the plan, many of whom still think the state should have agreed to rehabilitate Charity Hospital rather than build a new hospital, said the action effectively ends city leverage over the project, because its control of the streets was the city's only remaining way to demand the state make any changes in its plans.
Head ended up voting for the revocation because she said she recognizes the value of such a hospital as much as anyone else, but she was unhappy that the city did not get further concessions from the state. She failed to attract any support from her colleagues for most of the changes she wanted to make to the ordinance giving up the city's claims.
University Medical Center would need $100 million state subsidy annually, consultants say
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Updated: June 3, 2011
As it is currently planned, a $1.2 billion, 424-bed University Medical Center would likely require about $100 million in annual state general fund support by 2020, according to a highly anticipated report issued Thursday.
View full sizeDavid Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune archive The University Medical Center site was photographed in January. That analysis -- not significantly different from the draft report that Kaufman, Hall & Associates prepared in April -- leaves UMC board members to contemplate a final business model and financing scheme for a hospital slated to open in 2015, almost a decade after Hurricane Katrina shuttered Charity Hospital.
State builders and Louisiana State University System administrators, meanwhile, are left to persuade skeptical legislators to make a long-term commitment in a political environment dominated by privatization, tax cuts and austerity.
Lead Kaufman Hall analyst Andy Majka called legislative appropriations "an incredibly important part of how this business plan operates in the future. Where is the plug that makes this work? In our analysis, it's the state support.".
Why Was New Orleans's Charity Hospital Allowed to Die?
By Roberta Brandes Gratz - The Nation | Updated: April 27, 2011
Before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Charity Hospital was the pride of New Orleans. A 1930s Art Deco–style icon built with WPA funds, Charity was one of the oldest continually operating public hospitals in the country and was regarded as one of the most vital and successful. “Charity was one of the best teaching hospitals in the country, where students from Tulane and LSU did their training,” says Dr. James Moises, a former Charity emergency room physician, noting that it served 100,000 patients a year before the storm.
Today Charity is a skeleton of its former self, with smaller, temporary facilities. The interim coverage does not include “urgent and chronic outpatient care,” notes Moises, and reaches a vastly reduced patient population. Meanwhile, the money that has flowed from the state and federal governments to compensate for the storm’s damage to the hospital is set to be spent on a highly controversial new $1.2 billion complex on an entirely different site, separated from the downtown core by an interstate highway.
The abandonment of the old Charity Hospital stands as a potent symbol of the many disappointments and betrayals experienced by the residents of New Orleans after Katrina. The loss has been a huge blow to the poor African-American community Charity served—an outcome that is all the more tragic, critics say, because it didn’t have to happen.
Charity flooded only in the basement during Katrina. In an extraordinary act of dedication and volunteerism, a 200-person medical and military team brought in a 600-kilowatt generator, pumped out the water and prepared the hospital for service. It was cleaned (to a condition better than before the storm) and was “medical ready” within weeks, according to doctors and military personnel present at the cleanup, as well as Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, the retired Army general who was commander of the joint task force on Katrina.
Ground broken on New Orleans mega hospital, but funding woes cloud ceremony
By CAIN BURDEAU Associated Press | Updated: April 18, 2011 - 7:09 PM
NEW ORLEANS — Despite new money worries, state and city officials held a groundbreaking Monday for a proposed $1.2 billion hospital in the heart of New Orleans to replace the long-shuttered Charity public hospital flooded during Hurricane Katrina and still closed despite public outcries to reopen it.
The groundbreaking was in a parking lot where part of the hospital will be built. It will serve as a teaching hospital for medical students and a primary medical center for the New Orleans region.
The new hospital's economic stimulus will dwarf even those of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration said it hopes to finish the hospital by August 2014 and open it in early 2015. The governor went to a fundraiser in Indiana rather than the groundbreaking.
To keep future hurricanes from flooding the hospital, the building will be 20 feet above sea level and able to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. It will also be able to function for a week if the power goes out, officials said.
The ceremony was overshadowed by questions over whether the state will get the last $400 million or so it needs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and by fresh opposition from U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican.
"The current mega-Charity plan is too big and costs too much," Vitter said. "It's unsustainable. And the taxpayer will be left holding the bag."
Vitter's opposition to the project follows growing concerns about its scale. A recent financial analysis commissioned by the board created to oversee the hospital found potential funding problems. The report, by an Illinois firm that specializes in health care financing, said the plans were "materially larger than is supportable."
"Yet the state seems to be forging ahead with a groundbreaking on that mega-plan anyway. I just don't get it," Vitter said.
The project also has run into fierce opposition from preservationists, landowners and a large slice of New Orleanians who feel that Charity should have been reopened after Katrina in its old building.
"The groundbreaking seems to me to be a way of pushing ahead to make it a fait accompli so they can continue with this plan that seems not feasible and unsustainable," said Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, a Baton Rouge-based preservation group.
After Katrina, a plan first floated in the early 1990s and pushed again shortly before the storm, to create a biomedical district around Charity Hospital and the Veterans Administration hospital, took root. The idea was to rebuild a flooded VA hospital next to a new public hospital by clearing 25 city blocks in the Lower Mid-City area, which dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The ground for the new VA hospital has been mostly cleared. Most of the neighborhood where the new Charity hospital is supposed to go has not been cleared.
"This is like bad urban renewal from the 1960s and 1970s," said Bill Borah, a New Orleans land use attorney who fought plans to construct interstates in historic New Orleans when they were proposed in the 1950s, including one that was slated to run into the French Quarter.
There is still a push, backed by Vitter, to halt the expansion and retrofit the shuttered Charity hospital.
"Charity hospital is still an alternative. You can have everything you want with all the state-of-the-art bells and whistles inside Charity," Stokes said.
Finding the money to build and operate the hospital has been a headache.
"We've got $900 million in hand," said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, the state's chief financial officer. He said the state is continuing to work with HUD. If that falls through, the state will look for loans and might phase in the project.
Orleans Parish School Board files McDonogh No. 11 lawsuit against State and Louisiana Board of Supervisors
By Leslie Williams, The Times-Picayune | Updated: Monday, March 28, 2011,11:11 PM
The Orleans Parish School Board has filed a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana and the Board of Supervisors of LSU for damages regarding the expropriation of the McDonogh No. 11 school, according to a new release.
Ted Jackson, The Times-PicayuneThe Orleans Parish School Board has filed lawsuit over the state's expropriation of McDonogh11 school. The release does not elaborate on the amount of damages sought, but notes that "the State and LSU offered OPSB $2,365,000 for the property - an amount considerably less than the cost of post-Katrina renovations to the school and substantially less than the construction cost of a replacement high school."
McDonogh No. 11 is the oldest continuously operating school in Orleans Parish and is believed to be one of the oldest continuously operating schools in the United States. Since Katrina, McDonogh No. 11 has served as the facility of the Priestley Charter School. In June 2010, representatives of the State and LSU informed OPSB and Priestly that the school would need to be vacated in 90 days.
New Orleans City Council members asking state to spare McDonogh No. 11 school in hospital footprint
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 6:10 PM
New Orleans City Council members have drafted a letter to state officials asking the planned Charity Hospital successor be constructed without razing the McDonogh No. 11 school building in Mid-City.
The letter, which was still circulating for signatures as of this morning, cites both the architectural and historical value of the late 19th century structure and the fact that $3 million in public money already have been spent on its refurbishing since Hurricane Katrina.
"The City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana and the federal government would all appear to be walking in circles if we use tax payer dollars to restore a building that, less than five years later, will be torn down for another tax payer-funded project," the letter states. "It will make no sense to tax payers, and, frankly, it doesn't make any sense to us."
The three-story building is one of a handful of remaining school buildings designed by William Freret in post-Civil War New Orleans. Echoing sentiments offered previously by historic preservation groups, the council letter argues that the structure could be incorporated into the new University Medical Center slated for the...
Editorial: Saving McDonogh No. 11
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Not only is the McDonogh No. 11 campus historically and architecturally significant to New Orleans, but it was restored before Katrina and then underwent $3 million in renovations afterward.
It also is in the middle of the 34-acre site where a much-needed teaching hospital is to be built in Mid-City.
At this point, the 130-year-old school is scheduled to be demolished. The current plans for University Medical Center, which is vital to New Orleans' recovery, put the entry to the Emergency Department and support facilities where McDonogh now sits. "Given the close proximity and placement of the school, it was impossible to integrate the existing facility with the complex structures needed for the hospital design," state facilities chief Jerry Jones said.
Today the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Preservation Resource Center, Committee to Reopen Charity Hospital, Louisiana Landmarks Society, Smart Growth for Louisiana, Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates (VCPORA), and SaveCharityHospital.com called on the State of Louisiana to incorporate the architecturally and historically significant McDonogh No. 11 School into a reconfigured University Medical Center (UMC) plan, rather than demolishing a vital piece of New Orleans’ history. The National Trust and its partners held a press conference urging the State to consider alternatives to demolishing the McDonough No 11 building.
The historic school located at 2009 Palmyra Street is within the 37-acre footprint for the proposed medical facility, a project which has already caused the demolition of 21 structures in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood, a majority of them historic. The loss of those buildings and the imminent threat to the McDonogh No. 11 School is especially egregious in light of the medical center’s $400 million financing shortfall that will almost certainly stall site development. This fact prompted a UMC Board consultant to warn of imprudent site preparation that is out of step with the project’s financial resources. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also raised concerns about the hospital project’s funding and design during the UMC Board’s application process for mortgage insurance.
“So much unwarranted demolition has already taken place in Mid-City, irrevocably severing the neighborhood’s tie to its past, and undermining homeowners’ commitment to rebuilding after Katrina,” said the National Trust’s Southern Regional Office Director, John Hildreth, “We’re sending a message to the State that here’s an excellent opportunity for them to salve the wound a bit, by stopping the demolition plans for the school, and instead making a rehabilitated McDonogh No. 11 School an integral part of the LSU/VA hospital plan.”
The McDonogh No. 11 School was built in 1879 and designed by William Freret, who later served as the Architect of the United States for the U.S. Treasury. The handsome powder blue Italianate/French Empire structure replaced the earlier Madison School, which burned down in 1878, taking the lives of two firefighters. Their sacrifice is memorialized by a stone plaque embedded above the main entryway.
The McDonogh No. 11 School served as the New Orleans Center for Health Careers, the only public school dedicated to prepare OPSB students for the Allied Health professions, until Katrina. Following the storm and subsequent flooding, the school was renovated at a cost of several million dollars and then served as a distinctive home for a public charter high school specializing in architecture and construction until December 2010 when students were abruptly forced to vacate in anticipation of demolition. These students are now learning in a group of modular buildings miles away from McDonogh No. 11, despite the uncertain timeframe for UMC site development. The Orleans Parish School Board retains ownership of the building and has retained counsel to protest an exceedingly low offer from the state in the face of expropriation.
CONTACT: Brad Vogel, National Trust – (504) 388-8298
NEW ORLEANS FIELD OFFICE
National Trust for Historic Preservation
8123A Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
Can LSU med center pay the bills? James Gill
By Letters to the Editor | Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011, 6:20 AM
Say you'd come back after Katrina to fix up your Mid-City house, possibly at public expense, and then watched it get knocked down to make way for a $1.2 billion medical complex.
You'd have to figure the complex was certain to be built if work had begun to turn a vast tract at the heart of New Orleans into a wasteland. It wouldn't make much sense to acquire property and commence demolition before the money had been lined up to fill the void left by the closure of Charity Hospital.
That is where we stand right now, however. And even if the University Medical Center does go ahead, the projected opening date has been pushed back again, this time until 2015, so there will be no hospital until a full decade after Katrina closed Charity down.
LSU evidently figures that a glorious new complex, and the economic stimulus it would supposedly bring, are well worth waiting for.
The board overseeing the project is naturally preoccupied right now, because the kitty is a good $400 million short, and only HUD can save the day. It could be worse, for the feds, in the form of FEMA, have already proved a major benefactor.
Although FEMA initially offered...
Transplanted medplex houses in need of life support
Bobbi Rogers and Kevin Krause were deservedly proud of their camelback on Palmyra Street, near Galvez. Part of the influx of young professionals drawn to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the couple bought the place in 2007 and refurbished it in stride with neighbors engaged in one of the city’s more vigorous community revivals. Ironically, top-to-bottom restoration of the house was made possible in part by a $45,000 state grant for historic preservation.
Today the house teeters absurdly atop five-foot concrete piers in the 3600 block of Second Street, a couple of miles from Palmyra. Its camelback has been lopped off, along with the rear rooms that stood beneath it; its roof and windows are open to the elements, its architectural details – those that survived the move – tossed in a heap on the floor.
The house is one of 71 that have been uprooted in a first phase of site preparation for the $2 billion medical complex for the Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University hospitals, a project about to begin construction on 70 blocks along Tulane Avenue north of Claiborne Avenue. The cost of moving the houses from the Veterans Affairs part of the project: more than $3 million. The price the couple was paid during the condemnation process was not stingy: $350,000.
What has provoked concern is the outcome of the overall taxpayer investment. Most often roofless, only occasionally sheathed in plastic and frequently shorn of the detailing that made them quaint and worth saving, the houses are strewn about the city’s older neighborhoods like giant packing crates.
Preservationists had hailed plans to relocate the houses as at least a...
Written by Brad Vogel
I’ve discovered something important about preservation during my months with the National Trust’s New Orleans Field Office: when the fight is seemingly over, it’s usually not over yet. In the context of the LSU/VA Hospitals complex in the Mid-City National Register Historic District, that’s certainly been the case. While the project has continued to push forward, we’ve managed to extract a number of positives during the ongoing rearguard action.
Just last week, we had some great news. We learned that after months of continuous on-the-ground pressure from the National Trust and local allies, the State of Louisiana has agreed to move up to 25 houses off the University Medical Center (UMC) footprint instead of demolishing them. The houses would join more than 70 houses that have been moved off the adjacent VA Hospital site by Builders of Hope to various lots in the city for rehabilitation. Leaving the neighborhood intact is clearly the ideal outcome, but house moving has become a preferred policy in a landscape of last resorts.
While more than 20 structures have already been demolished in the UMC site, the state has halted demolitions because the University Medical Center’s own financial advisor recently warned board members that site preparation had gotten far out ahead of financial and management realities. The project remains over $400 million short of the necessary financing for construction, and additional demolitions jeopardize a shot at HUD mortgage insurance that some see as a way to bridge the gap. Additionally, we called the...
Hospital opening pushed to 2015
Land acquisition, finances still thorns
Monday, January 31, 2011 | By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune
The targeted opening date for the state's Charity Hospital successor has been pushed back for the second time in as many months, with the latest recalculation forcing the University Medical Center opening into 2015, the year that will mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The new move-in date, according to a monthly report from Jacobs Engineering, the state's project manager, is Feb. 28, 2015, two months later than the Dec. 31, 2014, date set in the previous report and eight months later than the target at the start of last year.
Jacobs set the latest target presuming that the Orleans Parish clerk of civil court, beset for months by a database crash, can accommodate all delayed property closings by April 1. The report also acknowledges that lingering financing questions could...
Relocation of historic homes from Veterans Affairs hospital footprint nearly complete
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 9:07 PM | Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 9:10 PM
Builders of Hope, acting as a city of New Orleans contractor, is nearing completion of a $3.2 million program to move historic homes from the planned federal veterans hospital footprint to other parcels in Mid-City.
Through Thursday, the effort involved 69 structures being moved, with three houses scheduled for Friday and four more identified as movable but not yet scheduled.
What remains is an expansive tract of cleared land, with a few exceptions, in the more than 30 acres bound by Tulane Avenue, South Rocheblave Street, Canal Street and South Galvez Street. The 200-bed VA medical complex is projected to open there in 2014.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, meanwhile, is negotiating a new arrangement to have Builders of Hope continue its efforts on the adjacent land slated for the state’s Charity Hospital successor.
State and city officials said the VA program will exhaust the initial $3.2 million, which came from $79 million in federal hurricane recovery grants that former Mayor Ray Nagin committed to land acquisition and site preparation for the VA hospital.
The state previously pushed for the city to dedicate any remaining Builders of Hope money to moving houses from the adjacent University Medical Center site. Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni and state spokesman Michael Diresto, whose agency manages the University Medical Center project, said enough money should remain from that...
The nomination of Big Charity to the National Register of Historic Places has passed the state review panel and now is in Washington, DC for the final step in official nomination.
Demolition Déjà Vu All Over Again in NOLA: State Demolishing Houses & Other Iconic Buildings in Hospital Sites
By National Trust for Historic Preservation on December 21st, 2010
Written by Gate Pratt
House-moving in the VA hospital site should have been a silver lining to the dark cloud of demolition. Twelve blocks of neighborhood fabric have been eradicated to make way for the poorly-located and maddeningly suburban-style VA Hospital. At the urging of local preservationists and National Trust field staff, the City of New Orleans negotiated to relocate dozens of historic residences to surrounding neighborhoods. Thanks to Mayor Landrieu’s assistance, rather than demolishing these houses and sending them to the landfill, at least 70 homes will now be rehabilitated elsewhere and ultimately contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the city’s neighborhoods. Not the worst outcome, all things considered.
However, no sooner had preservationists begun to exhale than the bulldozers started to roll in the adjacent LSU site. Imagine the surprise of watching houses rolling down Galvez Street to new locations from the VA Site and then observing the simultaneous demolition of similar houses in the LSU site! Both the city and the state have expressed an avowed interest and willingness to move houses, but have claimed lack of funds for the endeavor.
So, here we are again, working to stop demolitions and find funds to move houses, something we wouldn’t be doing had a thoughtful site plan been developed at the outset. Requests are in to the city and state to provide a temporary 60-day moratorium on demolition while funding is procured for house moving. We are optimistic that funds can be obtained and relocation sites can be provided to...
Leveled playing field? Black neighborhood in Mid-City all but gone
By: Christopher Tidmore, Contributing Writer | Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 12:51 pm
It looks like a wasteland. The open bare earth is dotted with signs promising the advent of a new state- of-the-art $800 million Veterans Administration hospital. Today, though, the 19th-Century, predominantly African-American neighborhood in Mid-City that defied the floodwaters of Katrina and countless hurricanes before now is as bare as if those 100-year-old homes had never stood.
Only the prophetically named Outer Banks Bar stands sentinel at the edge of construction holocaust. It and the handful of remaining houses between S. Galvez and S. Rocheblave will be gone soon as well, making way for a $2 billion 424-bed medical teaching facility, part of the LSU/VA complex that government leaders aim to anchor the BioDistrict New Orleans, a medical and science corridor that one day is expected to span 1,500 acres.
The demolition of historic buildings, many logged on the National Register, is defined by leaders from Governor Jindal to the Mayor Landrieu, as a necessary step if the city wants to attract businesses and become nationally recognized as a hub for...
Hospital plan just the latest "lesser of two evils": A letter to the editor
Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010, 1:58 AM
Re: "Compromise in design of New Orleans' new hospital," Our Opinions, Dec. 2.
Certainly, it is better to have green space rather than surface parking on the proposed LSU hospital site, but do we really need to take six blocks of homes and businesses now, for speculative "future use," when we don't even have all the funding for the initial phase?
And yes, retail space on the LSU site may make the streets more pedestrian friendly. Yes, it provides a better design for the streetscape.
Of course it was better to move some historic houses from the VA site rather than throw them in a landfill, but only after we decided to unnecessarily obliterate a historic neighborhood.
At this point, we are not even choosing to move the houses from the LSU site.
It's a slippery slope -- always having to choose one of two evils.
Little by little, we erode our values. Like when the state decided to keep Charity Hospital closed after it was cleaned and ready to reopen. But keeping it closed could enable us to get a shiny new hospital 10 years later.
Like when we amended the City Charter to structure citizens into the planning process and then excluded citizens from deciding where the...
Oh, when the bulldozers go marching in
After all that New Orleans has suffered in the five-plus years since Hurricane Katrina, who would think that yet another of the Crescent City’s character-rich neighborhoods — one that had recently been repaired with federal dollars — would be ripped apart, this time at the behest of the state and federal governments?
It’s shocking, but an enormous volume of gratuitous destruction is under way in a city better known for celebrating than subverting its architectural character. New Orleans is at this moment sacrificing a distinctive working-class neighborhood to land-hungry medical institutions that insist on huge footprints for their future campuses.
Since last spring, more than 60 buildings, many of them charming little shotgun houses that contribute to a National Register historic district, have been demolished so that a new Veterans Affairs hospital can be built on 30 acres cleared of its inhabitants.
Another 60-plus houses, mostly of historic vintage, have been hauled out of the neighborhood, many of them shorn of their roofs so that they can be transported through the streets and plunked on sites elsewhere in New Orleans — this, too, for the sake of a land-hungry VA.
And on an adjoining 37 acres in this Mid-City New Orleans neighborhood, more than 10 structures have been demolished to make way for the state-owned University Medical Center.
You can track the trail of....
LSU-VA to rip down Dixie Brewery
By: Christopher Tidmore, Contributing Writer
Posted: Monday, December 6, 2010 11:45 am
The Iconic Dixie Brewery on Tulane Avenue could soon be demolished - despite promises from LSU-VA Medical District officials over the last three years that it would be spared the wrecking ball.
Every proposed plan for the construction of the new Veterans Administration Medical Center in Mid-City specifically excluded the dome topped, architecturally significant former Brewery. According to plans, it would be converted into a "research center" or other useful portion of the overall LSU-VA Medical complex, keeping the historic landmark on Tulane.
In an exclusive, The Louisiana Weekly has learned that last week the owners of Dixie Brewery, Joseph and Kendra Bruno, were offered less than $60,000 for the Brewery and other parcel improvements in preparation for a proposed Veterans Affairs Hospital.
According to the Brunos and local neighborhood activist Martha Owen, the offer was made in a letter signed by John Lombardi, President of LSU. Then, the possibility of expropriation and demolition was delivered verbally.
It is their understanding that the Brewery could be expropriated and demolished as early as...
New Orleans makeover: economic boost or loss of a historical legacy?
By Mark Guarino, Staff writer / December 6, 2010
Post-Katrina, New Orleans looks to diversify its economy beyond tourism. But plans for a mammoth biomedical facility mean historic homes will be relocated, or razed.
New Orleans - The parade crawling up Tulane Avenue in this city is unusually quiet. No one is dancing to marching bands. No one is cheering for beads to be thrown from atop a float.
That's because there are no floats. This parade features only modest, one-story homes more than 100 years old, jacked up on steel beams and dragged slowly by pickup trucks to their new location a few miles away. The procession is the result of one of the most controversial urban-planning projects in New Orleans since hurricane Katrina. On one side are those who fear that the city's historic character is being steamrolled by state and federal lawmakers. On the other side are those who say sacrifices are in order if the city wants to advance an economic comeback.
The controversy involves nearly 265 homes in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood, a 30-acre area recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. It borders downtown and is across from the city's medical district, decimated by Katrina.
Even before the storm, the federal government was moving forward to build a new veterans hospital to replace the cramped one in the district. When Katrina damaged the hospital, those plans were hastened. In late 2008, the state announced it...
Neighborhood survives Katrina _ not urban renewal
By CAIN BURDEAU, The Associated Press | Monday, December 6, 2010; 4:22 AM
NEW ORLEANS -- The Outer Banks Bar had stood as a street-level recovery center after Hurricane Katrina, an unofficial hub for an inner-city neighborhood that had been left for dead even before the floodwaters came.
No longer do the bar's patrons stare out at the working-class surroundings they helped revive and rebuild, all of it bulldozed away. Sunshine streams through the grimy windows, past the faint outline of the bar's former name, "Cajun Inn," with all of the buildings that had once given shade now flattened for a massive redevelopment project: a $2 billion hospital district spanning 25 city blocks.
Since May, more than 100 homes and businesses have been either demolished or transplanted to other spots around the city. Even though the bar's owner is challenging the city's effort to shut him down, most of the folks who stop by for a cold one after work feel their last drinks are drawing near.
"I worked on a lot of houses in this neighborhood, and now they are all gone," said James McFarland, a 48-year-old Texas native who was drawn to New Orleans after Katrina when he saw images of homes on fire surrounded by floodwaters. "I will hang around until they're all gone, I guess."
From under the bar's overhang, McFarland, an Outer Banks regular, surveyed the flattened landscape where he spent long, hot months laboring with...
November 23, 2010
Mitchell J. Landrieu
Mayor, City of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street, Suite 2E04
New Orleans, LA 70112
RE: UMC Hospital Footprint –
Request for 60-Day Moratorium on Demolition and Salvage
and Establishment of House Moving Policy.
Dear Mayor Landrieu,
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and local supporting organizations want to thank you for your Administration’s efforts to save many historic homes located in the footprint of the VA hospital. Faced with the unfortunate choice of demolishing or moving houses, we believe that moving them is a better, more sustainable option.
As you know, many preservation groups have long opposed what we believe to be a deeply flawed plan for constructing new hospitals in New Orleans, viewing it as highly destructive, unnecessarily expensive, and more time consuming than other options. We would have preferred that this situation never arose, and we believe this outcome could have been avoided altogether if better planning had occurred. Despite this opposition, we recognize that construction plans are moving forward, especially for the fully funded VA hospital.
While the effort to move homes from the VA footprint has been commendable, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of a comparable effort on the site of the proposed LSU hospital. To date, no homes have been moved from the LSU University Medical Center (UMC) footprint. This is unacceptable. The experience on the VA site clearly demonstrates that historic homes can be saved. This is especially critical given that—in addition to dozens of historic homes—the UMC footprint contains iconic New Orleans landmarks that must be preserved, including the McDonogh No. 11 School.
Although the Times Picayune’s November 21, 2010 article “Land holdups at VA hospital site buy time to save old homes” declared the State’s willingness to move houses, today we documented State directed demolition and salvage occurring at an accelerated rate. Because of this, we ask the city to institute a 60 day moratorium on Demolition and Salvage on the UMC site, as was done on the VA site, in order to allow a solution to be found to move houses. Any assertions of deadline requirements by the State should be viewed as arbitrarily self-imposed, in light of the fact that funding for the new hospital will not be confirmed, if at all, until next fall.
Progress has been made on the challenge of finding locations for the newly-moved houses. As the VA site-clearing moved forward, we learned that there are literally dozens of available lots in historic areas across the city. Builders of Hope has been leading the process of matching newlymoved houses with available lots, and preservation organizations remain available to assist in this regard.
Indeed, this situation presents city leaders with an opportunity to develop a national model in alleviating blight by strategically relocating historic houses to areas of the city that could most benefit from additional residential development. We urge you to work with the State and the UMC Board of Directors to develop a plan to save these irreplaceable historic homes.
Thank you for your continued leadership on this issue, and we offer our services going forward to find a workable solution to ensure that as many homes as possible are moved from the UMC footprint.
Gaither Pratt, Director
New Orleans Field Office
National Trust for Historic Preservation
8123A Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER
LOUISIANA LANDMARKS SOCIETY
FOUNDATION FOR HISTORICAL LOUISIANA
Attachment: Mid-City National Register Historic District
Contributing Properties Located in Proposed LSU (UMC) Hospital Footprint
CC: Andy Kopplin, Deputy Mayor
Members of the City Council
Board of Directors, UMC Management Corporation c/o Mr. Robert Yarborough, Chair,
Yolanda W. Rodriguez, Executive Director, City Planning Commission
Land holdups at VA hospital site buy time to save old homes
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Sunday, November 21, 2010, 7:45 AM
The slow place of land acquisition for the planned federal veterans hospital in Mid-City has yielded a blessing of sorts for a historic preservation effort to spare dozens of old homes from the wrecking ball.
Aides to Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the Builders of Hope program expects to move at least 81 houses to lots elsewhere in Mid-City by Dec. 1. That's less than the 100 structures targeted when the effort began in September, but it's well more than the 40 homes that had been moved by Oct. 31, the initial end date that Landrieu and Builders of Hope targeted. As of Wednesday, 55 houses had been taken elsewhere in Mid-City.
State officials, meanwhile, are clamoring for the $3.2 million program's conclusion so they can use any leftover money to move historic houses from the adjacent footprint slated for the successor to the Charity Hospital. Andy Kopplin, Landrieu's chief administrative officer, said the city, after several weeks of requests from the state, has agreed that the remaining balance will pay to move houses from the University Medical Center site.
The Landrieu administration, with the agreement of the state and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, set aside the $3.2 million from the $79 million in federal hurricane recovery grants that
Mayor Landrieu Meets with Save Charity Advocates at City Hall, Accepts Over 10,000 Petitions
Tue, 10/19/2010 - 02:40
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu met with a delegation of concerned citizens today at City Hall to accept over 10,000 petitions urging him to restore, renew, and reopen historic Charity Hospital.
The delegation represented a cross-section of life in New Orleans. Ministers, a prominent jazz musician, a civil rights lawyer, a small business owner, Charity Hospital Babies, social justice advocates, and concerned citizens presented the petitions, which were collected over the course of two months.
The delegation urged the Mayor to halt the demolitions that began two weeks ago in the footprint of the proposed UMC hospital. Adequate funding to build the UMC, which will ostensibly replace Charity Hospital, is not presently in place.
Please contact Mayor Landrieu to thank him for listening to the voice of the majority of citizens in New Orleans. Urge him to halt further demolition of Lower Mid-City - tell him reopening Charity is the better approach for the long run.
Mayor: (504) 658-4900 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader: LSU hospital in N.O. sacred cow?
* Published: Oct 18, 2010
Although the governor warned us in the Oct. 7 article titled “Jindal says no part of budget safe from cuts” — there was no discussion about a seemingly sacred cow in our midst.
State agencies have been told to present a budget reflecting 35 percent in cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, with our universities facing funding slashes that could end many programs, fire much of the faculty and close entire campuses. We are looking at massive layoffs of state workers and major cuts in services, particularly health care.
There has even been talk of closing up to four public hospitals across the state. As all of this is happening, the state and LSU move ahead, bulldozing homes and businesses to build a $1.2-billion hospital complex in New Orleans — yet even that is not fully funded.
While the state has approximately...
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 11, 2010
COMMUNITY GROUPS, RESIDENTS TO CALL FOR HALT TO DEMOLITIONS IN PROPOSED LSU HOSPITAL FOOTPRINT
LOWER MID-CITY, NEW ORLEANS - Community groups and residents plan to gather at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 11, 2010 in front of a partially dismantled house at 2118 Cleveland Avenue to call upon local, state, and national officials to halt the demolitions in the footprint of the proposed University Medical Center (LSU Footprint).
Contractor crews moved across S. Galvez Street from the VA Hospital Footprint late last week to begin dismantling historic homes in the LSU Footprint, including the home at 2118 Cleveland, which is immediately behind Deutsches Haus. Crews have already totally demolished one structure lower on Cleveland Avenue.
Crucially, LSU and the State of Louisiana do not have adequate financing lined up to build their half of the hospital complex proposed for Lower Mid-City. The recently assembled UMC Management Corporation is only now beginning the process of applying for $500 million dollars in funding.
All concerned parties praise Mayor Landrieu’s foresight in embracing a house moving effort in the VA Hospital Footprint as an alternative to demolitions, as well as his call for a Peer-Review of the UMC projects that recommend further actions to represent the city’s interest. Many problems were presented in this study, led by Goody Clancy. Notably “the UMC’s program, design, phasing and construction schedule cannot realistically be confirmed until financing and therefore the budget is confirmed.”
“They have the money to acquire and expropriate properties,” said Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historic Louisiana. “But they do not have the money to build and/or operate the proposed hospital. It’s irresponsible, particularly in light of the state budget crunch, to proceed with demolitions when there is a real possibility this land could sit fallow for years.”
Additionally, the City of New Orleans has not approved the closure of the streets in the LSU footprint, a step that preceded the demolitions in the adjacent VA Footprint. Mayor Landrieu pointedly refused to grant this step earlier in the summer because he had concerns with LSU’s design for the site.
“We hope to find a better solution for addressing the many historic homes in the neighborhood,” said Brad Vogel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The historic homes and businesses in the LSU footprint are slated to be demolished. One already has been demolished. Moving properties off the site along the lines we’ve seen in the VA Hospital footprint would be preferable.”
Over 50 historic properties stand in the LSU Footprint, which is part of the Mid-City National Register Historic District. Iconic structures such as Deutsches Haus and the recently restored McDonough No. 11 school building (now Priestley Charter School), built in 1879 by William Freret, are slated to be destroyed.
A host of issues surround the move into the LSU Footprint. Residents and business owners alike have not received adequate notice that demolitions are imminent and actually occurring in their neighborhood. Some business owners, such as the owners of the Canal Street Guest House, are being expropriated against their will.
The destruction of the neighborhood will also eliminate viable components of the tax base. The Mayor’s Peer Review study also recommends to “hold sites until their reuse is determined.” It says, “do not relocate viable existing businesses on the expansion site until their sites are required for …UMC buildings.”
“It simply makes common sense to keep the current businesses operating – and homes intact. That allows for taxes to be generated for the city, and keeps activity in the area to prevent it from becoming vacant and blighted,” said Keith Hardie of the Louisiana Landmarks Society. The study also states that it appears there is not sufficient budget or city staff to meet the needs of the businesses that must be relocated.
At the same time, the Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital building continues to sit vacant without any planned tenants in the historic medical district in the Central Business District.
“It’s a shame to see the crews moving into the LSU Footprint when Charity remains a viable option for a state-of-the-art, twenty-first century medical facility. It can provide health care to New Orleans years sooner, and without the state needing to borrow additional money,” Stokes said.
LSU is proceeding with funding applications through HUD guaranteed loans. But even with this option, only 1 in 4 of those that pre-apply are approved to proceed. And of those ¾ that are not approved, none of the projects have been built. Advocates are asking national, state and city officials to stop demolitions until funding is secured and residents can be assured that the project will actually proceed.
“With all the questions concerning funding, bad designs – and with the certainty of delays – now is the time to examine all alternatives so that we can develop a medical district that is in the best interest of the city and state,” said Jack Davis of Smart Growth for Louisiana.
Haus should be saved: A letter to the editor
Published: Wednesday, October 06, 2010, 1:32 AM
The demolition of the Deutsches Haus, which has been part of the history of New Orleans since 1928, would be a disgrace.
I was active in the Deutsches Haus up until last year, while living in the Greater New Orleans area. The Haus is being demolished to make room for the proposed LSU hospital in lower Mid-City.
To be sure, the proposed LSU/VA project is not a done deal. The Committee to Re-open Charity Hospital and the Foundation for Historical Louisiana both have found that the cost for this project would be astronomical, and that the state could save $300 million by repairing and reopening Charity Hospital.
Given the state's current financial crisis, especially in education, I question how the state can even think about constructing a brand-new hospital over repairing an existing one.
It is not too late to save the Haus at its current location where it belongs.
The Committee to Re-open Charity Hospital is still very active, and will...
Fight to "Save Charity" resurfaces with petition, planned march
by Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News | Posted on September 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- Their fight isn't new, but those behind the effort to save Charity Hospital say they're re-energized.
"You can put your LSU hospital in Charity. You can do it $280 million cheaper, and you can do it as much as two years faster," said William Borah, a board member for Smart Growth for Louisiana.
Borah is hopeful the new city administration will listen. Borah and others say the Mayor Mitch Landrieu has indicated he will. "We're asking the mayor to take a really hard look at this,” he said. “This thing is not too far down the road (that) it can't be stopped."
Wednesday, Landrieu’s Press Secretary Ryan Berni sent this statement:
"Even when he disagrees, Mayor Landrieu is always willing to listen to residents' point of view on a given issue. In this case, Mayor Landrieu is committed to moving forward with the University Medical Center in Mid-City while finding an adaptive reuse for the old Charity Hospital building."
Charity Hospital advocates hope for fresh start with seating of new board
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 9:20 PM
Throughout the five years since Hurricane Katrina, historical preservationists, neighborhood associations and other advocates have called for Charity Hospital to be reopened, an effort largely in vain as Louisiana State University and elected officials pressed forward with plans to build a new teaching hospital.
Now the activists are rising again, buoyed by the official seating of the University Medical Center Management Corp., which held its first official meeting last week, with plans for another in early September.
"We have a new board that we think can give this a fresh look," said Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for a Historical Louisiana, a lead critic of the state's proposal to build a $1.2 billion, 424-bed complex on 34 acres in a Mid-City neighborhood that borders downtown.
Stokes said her priority remains gutting and rehabilitating Charity Hospital. A secondary alternative, she said, would be to dust off the post-Katrina Unified New Orleans Plan that called for the state and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to share the 34 acres between South Claiborne Avenue and South Galvez Street. That concept was scrapped in favor of the VA accepting from the city the adjacent 30 acres of residential and commercial property across Galvez.
Stokes and others made their case during the UMC board's public comment period, and several organizations plan a second-line and rally outside Charity on Tulane Avenue on Thursday at 4:45 p.m.
It remains unclear whether that...
Plan for new teaching hospital conflicts with New Orleans master plan, consultants say
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Friday, August 13, 2010, 9:55 PM
City of New Orleans planning consultants are critical of plans for the successor to Charity Hospital and recommend that Mayor Mitch Landrieu push for significant changes to the design and engage the city more directly in a planning process that has thus far been driven from state offices in Baton Rouge.
A 25-page analysis, led by David Dixon of the Goody Clancy firm the directed the city's master planning process, offers a range of alternatives for the 424-bed, $1.2 billion complex. The current plan, the report says, takes more land -- 37 acres bound by South Claiborne Avenue, Tulane Avenue, South Galvez Street and Canal Street -- than is necessary for initial construction.
The report frames the existing plan as a suburban design that does not integrate the hospital with either downtown or the adjacent residential neighborhoods and rejects principles established in the city's master plan, the Unified New Orleans Plan and the Regional Planning Commission's plan for an expanded medical district. The consultants argue for, among other ideas, putting more retail shops along Canal Street and Tulane Avenue to encourage pedestrian interaction with the hospital and for eliminating six blocks of surface parking -- on land closer to Claiborne that the state says would be used for "future expansion" -- while leaving those streets open to traffic.
The Dixon report suggests that the state decided first that it needed 37 acres, then proceeded to craft a design to fill the space. "It is not clear if and when expansion will
From: "Sandra Stokes" <email@example.com>
Date: August 11, 2010 6:20:12 PM CDT
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Betsy_Merritt@nthp.org
Subject: LSU Academic Medical Center in New Orleans
Dear Mr. Donaldson:
Attached please find the June 24, 2010 letter from the LA State Office of Facility Planning (FP&C) to ACHP regarding notification of funding stream and business plan approval for the LSU Academic Medical Center in compliance with Stipulation VI.C.3(b)(iii) of the Programmatic Agreement.
Also attached is the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s (FHL) July 26, 2010 response raising concerns. It seems FHL’s response was submitted after the ACHP’s July 19, 2010 confirmation letter, although both were posted to the Consult 106 website on July 28, 2010. For this reason, FHL would like to call your attention to our response, and restate that we do not believe the state has met the requirements of Stipulation VI.C.3(b)(iii) of the Programmatic Agreement as it does not identify funding and a business plan necessary for the proposed LSU-AMC.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Governor keeping close tabs on hospital board
Stephanie Grace, The Times-Picayune | Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 6:00 AM
Last week was a hectic one for the new board tasked with overseeing the planned $1.2 billion state teaching hospital, the long-anticipated replacement for the shuttered old Charity Hospital.
Not so coincidentally, things were busy on the hospital front over in Gov. Bobby Jindal's office too.
The week dawned with the appointment of a new University Medical Center board chair, Baton Rouge's Robert Yarborough. Yarborough's selection, newsworthy under any circumstances, was even more so because someone else had been named to the same position days earlier.
LSU President John Lombardi, who has the official right to designate the hospital board chair, had named Elaine Abell of Lafayette. Yet the LSU board, controlled by a Jindal-appointed majority, picked sitting supervisor Yarborough -- after a board vote and "input from the governor's office," according to an LSU system press release.
Yarborough said he was asked to take the position by LSU board chairman Blake Chatelain, a Jindal appointee, while several other board members said they were not part of the discussion. One, a Kathleen Blanco-appointed holdover, lashed out over the process.
"I guess we should now send (Jindal) the agenda of our meetings so...
Meetings of teaching hospital board should be open to the public: An editorial
Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune | Monday, August 09, 2010, 6:15 AM
Robert Yarborough, the chairman of the governing board for the $1.2 billion public teaching hospital planned for downtown New Orleans, is debating whether the people whose tax dollars will fund the University Medical Center should be kept informed about the project's process.
Mr. Yarborough, a businessman from Baton Rouge, said he's considering keeping the public informed -- but only after convening the first meeting of the panel behind closed doors last week at the Windsor Court Hotel. Nine of the board's 11 members were there and two aides to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Yet the public was deliberately kept in the dark about the discussions that took place.
Was business conducted? Or is the public supposed to believe that all those heavy hitters -- including the governor's legal adviser and deputy chief of staff -- came together near the site of the future hospital because they're all buddies of the first order?
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who scoffed at the idea that the meeting had a social purpose and not a business one, called it "an affront to everyone in this community."
It came therefore as no surprise last week when the board established to run the project called its first meeting -- and barred the press and the public.
"For any discussions to be had behind closed doors," she said, "it's a process that lacks transparency, and it's certainly not the way we...
Our Views: Sad tradition of secrecy
Published: Aug 8, 2010 - Page: 6B
In pressing to preserve state funding during these difficult economic times, LSU officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of the LSU System as a key public institution in Louisiana.
We have long supported strong funding for LSU. But the best way for LSU to affirm its role as a public institution is to act like one.
Too often, unfortunately, LSU’s leaders treat the system as a private club rather than a public trust. The latest lapse concerns the heated politics behind a planned $1.2 billion medical complex in New Orleans to replace Charity Hospital, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The construction and oversight of the complex is supposed to be governed by a private, nonprofit organization including participation from LSU. The LSU System president has the authority to appoint the chairman of the board overseeing the complex.
Last week, LSU System President John Lombardi appointed Lafayette lawyer Elaine Abell to the post. Shortly after that, LSU Board Chairman Blake Chatelain of Alexandria, with some other board members and backing from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office, had LSU board member Bobby Yarborough of Baton Rouge inserted into the chairman’s job.
How an apparent LSU board majority decided on Yarborough without an official board meeting is unclear. But the move seems to violate...
By James Gill | Sunday, August 08, 2010
LSU will never build its grandiose medical center at this rate.
It is sunk without the support of the taxpayer and New Orleans city government, but continues to insult both at every turn.
Perhaps it is only natural that university bigwigs should be secretive and supercilious. But they are supposed to be smarter than this. Prospects for the teaching hospital desperately needed to replace Big Charity depend on a crowd that is happy to conceal everything, save an all-encompassing disdain, even while assuming the right to control huge amounts of public money.
LSU has operated from the start on the assumption that it knows what is best for New Orleans, and public debate or comment would be a waste of breath.
It came therefore as no surprise last week when the board established to run the project called its first meeting -- and barred the press and the public.
Although the board is supposed to be autonomous, that tireless campaigner against the public's right to know, Gov. Bobby Jindal, sent along his executive counsel, Stephen Waguespack, to ensure it didn't get any funny ideas about open meetings. Waguespack, in cahoots with board chairman, Robert Yarborough, explained that the meeting would be secret under an exemption in the open meetings law for "chance meetings and social gatherings."
Well, chance had nothing to do with it, and anyone who...
Timetable for Hospital to Break Ground Slips Further
Financing to build it remains unsettled
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Sunday, July 25, 2010
Slow-paced land acquisition and lingering questions about financing have led state officials to push back their construction schedule for a successor to Charity Hospital, and additional delays seem almost certain even if the newly created University Medical Center corporation can meet an ambitious schedule for securing the additional money needed to start building.
Jacobs Engineering, the project manager for the planned $1.2 billion complex, estimates in its latest monthly report that construction will not begin before Feb. 1. The targeted date for the hospital to be fully operational is now Nov. 30, 2014, almost six months later than Jacobs previously projected and more than nine years after the state shuttered Charity in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
Those latest targets depend on the state soliciting bids for construction in December, something that state facilities chief Jerry Jones confirmed cannot happen until the hospital corporation comes up with...
LSU makes picks for board running new N.O. hospital
Step takes it closer to building center
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Taking a key step toward building a state teaching hospital in Mid-City, the Louisiana State University system has officially created the corporate entity for the facility and named its appointees to the board that will run it.
Two of LSU's four board members -- Rod West of New Orleans and Bobby Yarborough of Baton Rouge -- already sit on the LSU System Board of Supervisors. West, a former president of Entergy New Orleans, is now executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Entergy Corp.; Yarborough is co-owner of Manda Fine Meats.
Elaine Abell, a lawyer and funeral home president from Lafayette, and Byron Harrell, president of the New Orleans-based Baptist Community Ministries, will...
P.O. Box 908 ● Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70821
The Honorable Mitch Landrieu
Mayor, City of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street, Suite 3E04
New Orleans, LA 70112
Dear Mayor Landrieu,
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana Board of Directors thanks you for your recent announcement of a 45-day peer review for the Louisiana State University Medical Center (LSU-UMC). This gives the city the much needed opportunity to better design a medical center that can be nationally respected.
But the LSU-UMC is only a part of the picture. We urge you to include the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in both the city’s Master Plan and this peer review.
“Synergy” has been the buzz word for these complexes from the very beginning. In fact, the site selection was supposedly based on this concept of synergy. However, the complexes have been segmented and designed as disjointed and appalling examples of suburban sprawl. In order to truly achieve good planning and basic cohesiveness, both the LSU-UMC and the VAMC must be included, both in the Master Plan process, and in your 45 day review.
Happily, the city and its citizens are benefiting from an enlightened administration and no longer need to adhere to the unfortunate Nagin/Blakely plan and process imposed upon New Orleans. This 45 day review, in conjunction with the moratorium on demolitions in the VAMC footprint, is the perfect chance to take a look at the two medical centers as a whole, enabling them to be designed to their full potential. This is an opportunity to look at all alternatives and include the participation of nationally recognized experts in the fields of land use planning, hospital design, and sustainability. Your leadership can make the difference to ensure we responsibly plan innovative medical centers that can be examples to the rest of the nation.
Please call on the Foundation for Historical Louisiana for any assistance in these efforts. We all want to ensure that these medical centers are built quickly, and as progressive models than can become proud reflections of New Orleans.
Executive Vice Chair
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is granted delay in clearing homes for new hospital in Mid-City
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 10:02 PM Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 10:21 PM
Under pressure from historical preservation groups, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Wednesday asked the state to block its contractors from razing scores of architecturally significant Mid-City homes while the city explores options to move the structures to make way for a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.
A spokesman for the state Division of Administration confirmed the state's qualified approval of Landrieu's request, but Michael DiResto emphasized that his agency will not endorse any long-term plan that increases the project's cost or delays the construction timetable leading to a 2013 opening of the $800 million, 200-bed complex.
Potential alternatives -- and how they could be paid for -- have yet to be detailed as the state continues land acquisition and site preparation for the VA hospital and the adjacent $1.2 billion, 424-bed state teaching hospital. The complexes together would cover more than 70 acres bound by Tulane Avenue, South Rocheblave Street, Canal Street and South Claiborne Avenue.
"We've been for some time working to move homes and...
June 23, 2010
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan:
Last week, Mayor Mitch Landrieu started asserting New Orleans city government influence over the poorly planned hospital for Louisiana State University. He withdrew the previous mayor’s request to close 23 linear blocks of streets to create hospital superblock. And he called for a 45-day review of the design for the LSU Medical Center, which would occupy 37 acres adjacent to I-10. The project has come under attack for its suburban-sprawl architecture, its acres of surface parking, and its failure to consider the scale and character of the surrounding streets and neighborhoods. The Mayor instructed the City Planning Commission to ask Goody Clancy, the Boston planning firm, along with a “small group of highly regarded architects and planners” to review the design of the LSU hospital to see “how they can be improved in ways that are consistent with the New Orleans Master Plan.”
Adjacent to the proposed LSU hospital is the presently selected site for a new VA hospital -- a project that will wipe out a traditional New Orleans neighborhood. The 30-acre site contains 123 historic buildings – many rehabilitated with federal funds subsequent to Katrina – in a neighborhood that could otherwise become the kind of compact, walkable neighborhood that you envision for America’s cities. With appropriate infill and continued refurbishment, this historic neighborhood could serve the residential and commercial needs of the VA as well as LSU, if these hospitals were located and designed in a manner to complement the urban character of New Orleans.If these projects are completed as designed, they may be remembered as...
Richard Moe's last act as acting president of NTFHP is to ask for help with a key project
May 28, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama PRESIDENT
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As I retire from the presidency of the National Trust for Historic Preservation after seventeen years, I feel a deep appreciation for the relationship we have worked to develop with the federal government, both as a respected and credible advocate for preservation, and as a valued partner in a variety of public-private initiatives. However, one of my greatest regrets is that..
June 15th, 2010
Louisiana State Senators
Members of the LA House of Representatives
Dear Senator / Representative:
The immediate financial future for Louisiana is not bright. The state remains a victim of the recession, and the oil spill is scheduled to deliver a serious economic blow to South Louisiana. If there was ever a time to curb waste, this is it.
Attached (or at www.savemidcityhouses.com) are photographs of 123 historic buildings the State has slated for demolition in the currently proposed footprint of the VA and LSU hospitals. Many of these houses were rehabilitated with federal funds subsequent to Katrina. Under the current proposal, a traditional New Orleans neighborhood (and the tax base that goes with it) will be demolished and these houses will be taken to a landfill. There is a smart alternative to this destruction: locating the hospitals on...
Revocation of Right-of-Ways within the University Medical Center Project Property Disposition 4-10: Request for Deferral
June 17, 2010
Yolanda W. Rodriquez
City Planning Commission
1340 Poydras, 9th floor
New Orleans, LA 70112
Re:Revocation of Right-of-Ways within the University Medical Center Project Property Disposition 4-10: Request for Deferral
Dear Ms. Rodriquez:
The City of New Orleans (City) submitted an application to the New Orleans City Planning Commission (Commission) for the Revocation of Right-of-Ways of the streets within the University Medical Project (herein referred to as Property Disposition 4-10).
This matter is currently scheduled for the Commission's consideration on June 22, 2010. Please be advised that the City temporarily withdraws its application until further notice.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thanks in advance for your patience and cooperation in this matter.
Cedric S. Grant, Deputy Mayor
Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Developement
Mitch Landrieu delays street closures for teaching hospital
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | Published: Friday, June 18, 2010, 4:12 PM Updated: Friday, June 18, 2010, 7:23 PM
In his first major move concerning the teaching hospital slated for Mid-City, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has called for a 45-day review of the designs for the $1.2 billion, 424-bed successor to Charity Hospital slated for Mid-City.
According to a Thursday letter to Timmy Teppell, Gov. Bobby Jindal's chief of staff, and other state officials, Landrieu has instructed the City Planning Commission to assign Goody Clancy, the firm contracted to manage the city's master plan process, to conduct an "architectural peer review to improve the design."
Landrieu asked the Jindal administration to direct the state architects to participate: "I look forward to working with (state facilities chief) Jerry Jones and his architects and would ask that you direct them to cooperate fully with my design review team."
On the same day he made that move, Landrieu withdrew a request that the City Planning Commission act on street closures for the state hospital footprint, bound by South Claiborne Avenue, Tulane Avenue, South Galvez Street and Canal Street. The maneuver could give the city some leverage over what has otherwise been cast as a state project outside the realm of the city's ongoing
FHL comments to CPC
June 16, 2010
City Planning Commission
1340 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) asks the City Planning Commission to oppose the revocation of streets on the currently proposed site for the LSU Academic Medical Center. These are uncertain financial times for Louisiana. Budget deficits continue to take center stage during the legislative session, with suggested cuts of over $65 million to healthcare alone. One proposal threatens closing 4 state run hospitals across the state – with the next 3 years projections requiring even more slashing. At the same time, LSU is proposing the unlikely construction of a new $1.2B LSU-AMC.
A recent study commissioned by the Department of Health and Hospitals determined that the new LSU-AMC would not be self-sufficient as we have been told, but require over $70M annually in operating expenses by the state. In the Verite’ Healthcare study, it also suggests borrowing even more money for construction, and states they must consider the very real possibility of delay. All of this financial gloom does not include the forecasts of severe financial repercussions from the recent oil spill. The economic future for this hospital is questionable.
Revocation of the streets within the proposed site is premature at best. The city will destroy a currently producing revenue tax base in anticipation of a medical complex that may not be built for years – if at all.
With the financial climate alone, the only responsible thing to do is to take a step back and look at all alternatives for both complexes. FHL continues to maintain that both the VA and LSU hospitals are simply on the wrong sites. Even the city’s own UNOP plan, on which federal funding is based, puts the VA and LSU on the same site.
Building a state-of-the-art modern hospital inside Charity Hospital saves time, hundreds of millions of dollars, and a viable neighborhood from demolition. The reuse has been supported by architectural firms nationally, heralding it as the best use of the urban environment as well as the most sustainable approach. It is the fastest way to create jobs, to create economic development – and to kick start the bioscience district so important for the city. Current plans are deeply flawed.
Additionally, revelations of raising the elevation of the LSU and VA sites from a minimum of 3’ to 5.86’ will surely cause flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods. The cumulative impacts of drainage from these sites have not been studied. Liabilities abound.
FHL asks the City Planning Commission to oppose revocation of the streets.
Executive Vice Chair
New Orleans LSU Medical Complex Will Suck Millions More than Expected from State General Funds
NEW ORLEANS -- A study, commissioned by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, reveals new information that will obligate the state for hundreds of millions of additional general fund dollars to build and operate the New Orleans LSU Medical Complex, currently proposed for Lower Mid-City.
The Verite Consulting study, authored by Keith Hearle for DHH Secretary Alan Levine, finds that the LSU hospital will be drastically more expensive for the state than originally claimed, and that additional funding will be needed not just to complete construction of the proposed $1.2 billion complex, but for the operational losses of the hospital for many years to come.
Among the findings of the Verite study, a recent Times-Picayune article detailed the following:
Dr. Fred Cerise, LSU's top health care executive, tried to downplay the projected expenses, telling the Times-Picayune, "There's nothing in this report that is inconsistent with what we've been saying all along."
Not true. For instance, speaking on WWL radio's Garland Robinette show on May 29th, 2007, Chancellor Larry Hollier said, "I think what we can show, at least looking at the consultant's report that developed the business plan for the new hospital, that hospital is self-sustaining from year one. It does pay for itself, it pays for the bond notes that you would have to pay on this, it puts money aside for depreciation and provides capitol restructuring."
With the state already facing a budget crisis with a substantial operating deficit this fiscal year, and a multi-billion dollar defecit projected for the next fiscal year -- and despite already having $775 million on hand for initial construction -- the Vertie study should serve as a wakeup call that the current proposal for the LSU hospital is too expensive and lacking a sound business plan.
Month after month new costs, additional expenses, and surprise financial obligations are revealed regarding the proposed Lower Mid-City hospital.
Lawmakers should ask themselves:
Senate votes to give itself confirmation authority over New Orleans teaching hospital board
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | May 18, 2010, 5:40PM
The Louisiana Senate voted 23-12 Tuesday to claim the authority to confirm or reject the 11 appointees to the nascent New Orleans teaching hospital governing board, despite objections from Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Senate Bill 18 by Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, now moves to the House, where the landscape is more uncertain given both the governor's influence and the fact that the lower chamber will be gaining no new powers under the proposal.
Murray said the Senate should be involved given the state's ties to the project: The hospital holding corporation will be created as an affiliate of the Louisiana State University System; Jindal has four appointees to the board, while LSU has four more; and...
Excerpt from Stephen Verderber's book "Innovations in Hospital Architecture"
This excerpt discusses sustainability and the FHL/ RMJM study and concept plan in depth.
Why doesn't city master plan cover hospitals? A letter to the editor
By Letters to the Editor | May 02, 2010, 1:39AM
Roberta Gratz's column discusses Jane Jacobs, the author who advocated for the natural growth of urbanism, and Robert Moses, the highway czar who advocated for urban renewal and massively scaled transportation infrastructure.
Ms. Gratz points out that the Moses/Jacobs dichotomy is still at play in New Orleans with the proposed hospital projects.
Here's how I see that dichotomy: In the Jane Jacobs corner is the draft of the city's master plan that is on the verge of becoming law. This master plan advocates for historic preservation, sustainability and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. In the Robert Moses corner is the LSU/VA hospital plan. The combined development of the two hospitals is perhaps the largest development in New Orleans since the construction of the Louisiana Superdome, yet these two projects, whose site was selected by politicians rather than planners, has been exempt from the...
Over 100 Historic Homes Targeted for Demolition in the Lower Mid-City VA Hospital Footprint.
This booklet contains photographs of over 100 historic homes in Lower Mid-City which are scheduled for demolition to make way for the new VA hospital. Some of these homes were built of old growth cypress cut from the Manchac Swamp over 100 years ago. Many have been recently renovated, with new wiring and plumbing, new roofs, fresh paint, and new appliances. As of now, with a few exceptions, every house in this booklet will be torn down and taken to a landfill. Only a few decorative elements will be salvaged.
The demolitions are slated to begin in April, 2010. Taxpayer dollars were used to restore many of these homes, through the Road Home and other programs. Taxpayer dollars will be used to tear them down.
Whatever your position on the new hospitals, we can all agree that the needless destruction of these irreplaceable homes would be a tragedy. Saving and moving these houses would help maintain our tax base, preserve our architectural heritage, provide housing to keep families in Orleans Parish, and provide infill in recovering neighborhoods.
These historic houses are an important part of our unique culture, architecture and history. You can help! We have empty lots throughout our City. Grants and Tax Credits may be available. Check the website below for more information.
SAVE THESE HOUSES! GIVE THEM A NEW HOME!
Preservation groups want to move homes out of new hospital demolition zone
By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune | April 29, 2010, 7:22PM
As the state begins preparing homes for demolition in the footprint of a planned $800 million Veterans Affairs hospital, preservation groups said Thursday they want more time to move dozens of historic homes to vacant lots elsewhere in the city.
The Louisiana Landmarks Society said there are more than 120 historic properties that could be saved, rather than torn down at taxpayer expense. The group is circulating a brochure showing photos of the properties, many of which are fully renovated.
The government, however, says only 50 of the properties are eligible for its structure relocation program. Eight homeowners initially signed up to have their houses moved, but three dropped out, leaving only five in the program, said Michael DiResto, a spokesman for the state's Division of Administration.
The program was created to give property owners a...
4 Mid-City structures will be first to fall for new VA hospital
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune | April 28, 2010, 9:53PM
Contractors hired by the state of Louisiana and paid with federal hurricane recovery grants began site preparation Wednesday in the Mid-City footprint slated to become an $800 million, 200-bed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.
A Division of Administration official said 325 S. Tonti St., 319 S. Tonti St., 2410 Cleveland St. and 2322 Cleveland St. were the first structures scheduled for architectural salvage work, then for razing. The salvage work involves identifying and removing specific historic features -- doors, windows, columns, fixtures -- that can be reused.
The demolitions, which could...
There's still time to save historic area, Charity Hospital: A letter to the editor
By Letters to the Editor | April 08, 2010, 1:59AM
Re: "A significant victory," Our Opinions, April 4.
The Time-Picayune editorial praises Judge Eldon Fallon's ruling that the federal government obeyed environmental law in planning two new hospitals.
But what kind of victory is it to abandon a weakened Central Business District and destroy lower Mid-City's chance to be a viable neighborhood?
How will New Orleans win by bulldozing 150 historic buildings and violating our street grid, creating superblocks for suburban-sprawl hospitals?
Do we win by abandoning the principle of "citizen involvement in the planning process"? We invited citizens to get involved in the "Master Plan," but then told them they couldn't decide where to...
Master plan suggestions continue to flow as council vote nears
By Bruce Eggler, The Times-Picayune | April 07, 2010, 10:24PM
As the final adoption of New Orleans' two-years-in-the-making master plan approaches, criticism of the proposed plan and the process used to create it shows no sign of abating.
The plan, which the City Planning Commission approved in January, is intended to guide the city's development for the next 20 years.
At what was advertised as the City Council's final hearing on the more than 500-page document Wednesday night, speakers objected to some of what the plan says, some of what it doesn't say and how the...
Lots of parking in LSU hospital plans
Critics say the design counters principles of a walkable city, not suited for business
POSTED: 01:52 PM Monday, April 5, 2010 | BY: Richard A. Webster, Staff Writer
Critics are blasting architectural designs for the new Louisiana State University teaching hospital, describing it as a blight that wipes out dozens of acres of historic homes and replaces them with more than six blocks of parking lots.
Instead of creating a facility that is pedestrian-friendly and easily integrates itself into an urban setting, the LSU medical complex looks more like a sprawling suburban shopping mall, attorney and neighborhood activist Bill Borah said.
“Cities across the country are trying to become walkable. This is not a walkable development. It’s a throwback to the way cities tried to develop in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s,” Borah said. “New Orleans is doing something that every other city has rejected.”
The proposed $1.2 billion, 424-bed medical center — combined with the $800 million, 200-bed VA Hospital — sits on 70 acres in lower Mid-City. It includes 1,400 parking spaces on six blocks of surface lots and an additional 1,400 spaces in a parking garage.
“The ironic thing is that cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are creating neighborhoods based on the (historic) New Orleans system of grids. But for some reason, LSU has decided to wipe out that grid pattern with this hospital,” Borah said.
LSU deferred questions to state officials, who did not respond to requests for comment.
Kurt Weigle, president of the New Orleans Downtown Development District, is a proponent of the LSU/VA medical complex but is not in favor of the current design plans.
“Our vision has always been that the new bioscience district would be a true urban neighborhood. There should be folks living there along with retail space and restaurants,” Weigle said. “The new university medical center won’t fulfill its true potential unless we integrate it fully into surrounding neighborhoods, including downtown. There need to be better pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections and that will create a greater economic impact on the city overall.”
The DDD is working with the Regional Planning Commission, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and others on how to make better use of the six blocks slated for parking lots. One idea is to build another parking structure, Weigle said.
“LSU and the state are open to those discussions, but we need funding resources to make these concepts come to fruition,” Weigle said. “There’s nothing in the current plan that would preclude the addition of new structures to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.”
The best solution would be to combine the two hospitals on the 15-block location reserved for LSU, said Betsy Merritt, deputy general counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. It would eliminate the vast swath of surface parking and bring the project closer to the downtown corridor so existing businesses could better benefit from the influx of employees and patients. In addition, it would save 125 historic homes slated to be demolished to create the VA site, she said.
The Unified New Orleans Plan, an early draft of the city’s recovery strategy, called for the layout Merritt describes. But there are no indications the city, state, LSU or VA are willing to budge from their proposals.
The excessive parking lots appear to be an unnecessary land grab by LSU, said Jacques Morial, co-director of the Louisiana Justice Institute, a civil rights nonprofit.
“I don’t know what they intend to do with all of that land but we’re left to speculate the worst,” Morial said. “The plan is more appropriate for suburban Baton Rouge and is going to be an unpleasant island in the middle of walkable urban neighborhood.”
As the plan stands, the proposed medical complex will create a divide between itself and downtown, Merritt said. It is geared toward automobiles, as opposed to pedestrians, and will drive businesses away instead of attracting them.
“The proposed retail space on the ground floor of the parking garage would be the only retail space along the eight-block edge of the proposed VA and LSU medical centers,” she said. “The surrounding uses would be uninviting to pedestrians, (with) two or three blocks of surface parking, two massive central energy plants and the VA research facility at Tulane and South Rocheblave,” Merritt said.
“Given the forbidding context, with no other street-level activity geared to pedestrians, it is hard to imagine that a retail establishment could even survive economically under the parking garage, other than perhaps a coffee shop or newspaper stand.”•
Help Save Charity Hospital & Mid-City New Orleans
In November 2008, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University announced the selection of the Mid-City neighborhood for the site of their new hospitals. The new hospitals would needlessly destroy the historic neighborhood around Charity Hospital, where residents have been rebuilding and restoring their community since Hurricane Katrina. The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes this decision was a serious error and urges LSU and the VA to explore the alternative sites that would restore needed health care facilities faster and at less cost, while preserving much more of the historic Mid-City neighborhood.
Federal judge: Hospital planning was legal, land acquisition can proceed
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune March 31, 2010, 1:30PM
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon has denied a historic preservation group's request to halt land acquisition and construction of planned state and federal hospitals in Mid-City, rejecting the arguments that the planning process violated federal laws.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation had argued that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had improperly fast-tracked the planning process, while failing to consider alternative sites. The Trust is among the organizations that wants the state to gut Charity Hospital and rebuild within its shell.Fallon wrote in a 58-page ruling that months of...
Mid-City hospital momentum should stop immediately, preservationists tell judge
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune March 30, 2010, 6:12PM
A national historic preservation group has asked U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon to immediately halt all land acquisition and scheduled demolitions in the Mid-City footprint of planned state and federal teaching hospitals.
Fallon already is mulling The National Trust for Historic Preservation's challenge that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency violated federal environmental laws as they planned the medical complexes.
Fallon has not yet ruled seven weeks after a Feb. 10 hearing in that case, prompting the historic society to ask for a preliminary order to block actions that could not be reversed regardless of...
LSU/VA Complex verse Lower Mid-City homeowners
March 29th, 2010
Bobbi Rogers and her husband Kevin Krause moved to New Orleans in 2006 to help the city rebuild after the levee failures. As volunteers with the nonprofit group Phoenix of New Orleans, the couple gutted houses in Lower Mid-City and quickly fell in love with the area. They bought their own renovation project: a flooded, century-old, neo-classical camelback with a side hall. After two years of 80-hour workweeks, a state historical preservation grant and a construction loan, they moved into their home in March 2008.
The couple meticulously restored their house's past grandeur — from the stately columns to the cypress doors and pine floors. They wanted this to be home for their 5-week-old son, Nicholas.
Now the state wants to tear it down.
The state plans to bulldoze more than 150 houses to make way for the $1.2 billion LSU/VA medical complex. Many of those homes helped Mid-City earn its place on the National Register of Historic Places. The LSU/VA project represents progress and economic development, but that doesn't mean the state should raze historic architecture in a city that, less than...
Hospital plans move us away from preservation: A letter to the editor
By Letters to the Editor | February 21, 2010, 5:38AM
The New Orleans City Planning Commission recently approved the final draft of the city's master plan. The master plan includes two chapters, one on historic preservation and the other on environmental quality.
Unfortunately, the proposed land use plan indicates that the area designated for proposed LSU/VA Hospitals, has been labeled a "Mixed-Use Health/Life Sciences Neighborhood" when there is presently no such health facility located in this area.
I wonder how a proposal to build two large hospital facilities that requires eviction of residents and business owners, and the demolition and disposal of 24 city blocks of an established historic...
Hospital plans move us away from preservation: A letter to the editor
By Letters to the Editor | February 21, 2010, 5:38AM
The New Orleans City Planning Commission recently approved the final draft of the city's master plan. The master plan includes two chapters, one on historic preservation and the other on environmental quality.
Unfortunately, the proposed land use plan indicates that the area designated for proposed LSU/VA Hospitals, has been labeled a "Mixed-Use Health/Life Sciences Neighborhood" when there is presently no such health facility located in this area.
I wonder how a proposal to build two large hospital facilities that requires eviction of residents and business owners, and the demolition and disposal of 24 city blocks of an established historic...
Comments on closure of streets for VAMC NTHP
Wed 17/02/10 6:00 PM
Ms. Yolanda W. Rodriguez
City Planning Commission
1340 Poydras Street • New Orleans, LA 70112
Dear Ms. Rodriguez:
In connection with the upcoming hearing on February 23 regarding the closure of streets within the proposed site for the VA medical center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation urges the City Planning Commission to review thoroughly the attached letter that we recently submitted to the US Department of Veterans' Affairs, commenting on the environmental assessment (EA) for the design, construction, and operation of the VA medical center.
The proposed site for the VA medical center is inconsistent with the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) for District 4, which specifically calls for the VA hospital to be sited south of S. Galvez St. (together with the LSU hospital). (UNOP, Dist. 4 - Recovery Planning Proects - p.80.)
The proposed site for the VA medical center is also needlessly and foolishly self-destructive, as it would demolish well over a hundred homes, at a time when the City is still struggling to rebuild, house by house and block by block, after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition, as discussed in the attached letter, the EA reveals a number of alarming impacts that were not previously disclosed, and are likely to be extremely costly to the city and damaging to its neighborhoods. These include but are not limited to:
We urge the City Planning Commission not to approve the closure of these streets.
Thank you for considering the views of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Elizabeth S. Merritt
Deputy General Counsel
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Planning process for new hospitals challenged, defended in federal court
By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune February 10, 2010, 8:40PM
After more than two hours of back-and-forth with several attorneys Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon now must decide whether to ratify the planning process for new adjoining hospitals near downtown or grant a national historical society's request to halt the projects and require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans to retrace their steps.
A lawsuit filed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation claims that government parties violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they fast-tracked the required pre-construction review to bypass a comprehensive "environmental impact statement." Among other counterarguments, Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency say they are due the court's deference when considering the methodology used in satisfying the rules that govern all construction projects financed with federal tax money.
Both sides are seeking a final ruling to dispose of the case without trial.
The summary judgment hearing filled Fallon's courtroom at the federal courthouse on Poydras Street with...
Louisiana Wins Fight for Hospital
Ending one of the longest-running disputes left by Hurricane Katrina, a federal arbitration panel ruled Wednesday that Louisiana would receive $474.8 million — nearly all it had requested — to pay for the replacement of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, which has been closed since the storm.
The ruling is a significant victory for state and city officials, and gives a major boost to plans to replace Charity, a state-owned hospital for the indigent, with a new $1.2 billion academic medical center in the Mid-City neighborhood.
“This is a great week in Louisiana,” Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, exulted in a statement. “First, the Saints’ victory, and now we...
FHL Says Use the Compensation Funds to Gut and Rebuild Charity Hospital
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) says the announcement of the $474.7 million compensation for hurricane damage to Charity Hospital from the federal Civilian Board of Contract Appeals is a great decision for the State of Louisiana and the especially for the citizens of New Orleans.
“Let’s spend these dollars wisely. If Charity Hospital is reused and gutted to become the new teaching hospital, then few additional funds beyond this repayment would be necessary. The cost benefit analysis recommendation by the Steamlining Commission is more important now than ever. Let’s make the best economic decision for taxpayers and the citizens of New Orleans and the State,” said Sandra Stokes, FHL vice chair. Representatives of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Smart Growth New Orleans, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation were at the Joint Committee on Governmental Affairs to address the Streamlining Commissions recommendations regarding Big Charity Hospital and the Historic Lower Mid-City Neighborhood.
For more information on the FHL plan to rehabilitate Charity Hospital, continue reading below.
LSU denies neglecting Charity
BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana State University officials defended their post-Katrina upkeep of Charity Hospital before a federal arbitration panel and denied suggestions that they turned away efforts to reopen part of the hospital in the chaotic weeks after the storm, according to transcripts of the closed-door hearings made public Friday.
Robert Arnold, who was the facilities director at Charity Hospital when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, disputed evidence submitted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the bottom floors of the hospital were largely restored in the weeks after the storm and suitable for providing health care services.
The power supply to the hospital was....
Radio Ad Proposes New Compromise for LSU/VA Hospital Controversy .
NEW ORLEANS – Let’s build a hospital now. Let’s put our veterans first.
That’s the message of an ad running this week on New Orleans radio stations. It introduces a creative new compromise solution to the impasse over building the badly needed new hospitals in New Orleans.
It recommends building the hospital for the Department of Veterans Affairs – which has the money to build now – on the site planned for LSU’s teaching hospital. That’s a site which is ready for construction, even though LSU doesn’t have the money to build.
So, the ad says, put the hospital that’s ready to build, VA, on the virtually shovel-ready site that is controlled by LSU, which is unable to build its own new hospital because of financing problems. The site currently proposed for the VA hospital would force the demolition of a tight-knit residential community.
The ad, sponsored by Smart Growth for Louisiana, is an attempt to speed construction of the first of the two hospitals needed to drive the jobs-producing development of a biomedical economy for New Orleans: Build the VA hospital now on the site that‘s available and not affected by lawsuit delays.
The ad asks LSU to make way for the veterans by making the LSU site available for VA construction now.
The ad points out that New Orleans voters believe that LSU should not even be using this site in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood. The voters, according to a poll by Loyola University’s Prof. Edward Renwick, prefer building a state-of-the-art LSU hospital inside the Charity Hospital building by a 2-to-1 margin over building the hospital in Lower Mid-City.
Smart Growth for Louisiana is a non-profit group that promotes public involvement in planning major projects, like the huge $2 billion planned construction of the LSU and VA hospitals. Smart Growth is one of 77 local and national organizations that have called for hearings by the City Council and City Planning Commission on the hospital plans; an independent analysis that would compare reusing Charity to other alternatives; and inclusion of the proposed hospitals in the city’s Master Plan.
Audio of the spot is attached (you can also hear the radio ad athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAuw8Ny0eQk)
The text of the radio spot is below:
“You’ve probably heard the controversy about the closing of Charity Hospital, and how LSU wants to expropriate and bulldoze 70 acres of the Mid-City neighborhood. Right now, it’s bogged down in politics, lawsuits and lack of money.
“You know what? It’s not just LSU that wants a new hospital. So does the Department of Veterans Affairs. And get this -- the proposed VA hospital is funded.
“That’s not true for LSU. LSU’s hospital is hundreds of millions of dollars short -- and, it’s in the way of the VA.
“That’s because LSU wants to locate by North Claiborne Avenue, while pushing the VA farther into Mid-City, on a site tied up in lawsuits. But if LSU would let the VA hospital go first, by North Claiborne, we could start that hospital now.
“So move over, LSU. Let’s start building a hospital, and let’s put our veterans first.
“And by the way, voters, two-to-one, want LSU to put its new hospital inside a fully renovated Charity Hospital.
“Paid for by Smart Growth for Louisiana.”
Waiting for Charity in New Orleans:
Charity Hospital was the go-to medical facility for the city’s poor and now, when they need it most, it’s gone.
When Hurricane Katrina forced Charity Hospital to close four years ago, it was a dream come true for many officials in Louisiana’s state government who had long wanted to see it shuttered. Charity was the troubled medical facility that poor and uninsured residents of New Orleans turned to as their last resort for medical care. But like the large housing projects where many of those patients and their families lived, Charity had become a source of controversy for many in the public and private sector.
But the debate was more than just an ideological one; Charity was the go-to hospital for the city’s poor and now, when they need it most, it’s gone. Community organizations, low-income family advocates, teams of doctors and historic preservationists have been fighting the past four years to bring Charity back to life.
Now Louisiana State University is looking to build a....
Charity Hospital compensation hearing to pit state, FEMA in private arbitration
The arbitration panel that will set federal payments for Charity Hospital's damage during Katrina has begun its important work. But New Orleanians and taxpayers across the nation are being kept out -- and that's unfortunate.
The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, to which the judges belong, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency decided to hold this week's hearings behind closed doors. The Civilian Board usually operates that way because it's designed to resolve disputes between the federal government and its contractors, who understandably expect and deserve some privacy to protect proprietary information.
But the parties in the Charity dispute, FEMA and the state of Louisiana, are both public entities. FEMA offered $150 million for Charity damage, but the....
DAVIS: A choice between renew and replace
By Jack Davis
This fragile city, in its fifth year of recovery from Hurricane Katrina, has no shortage of urgent needs. And New Orleans and Louisiana government have become ever more resourceful in seeking federal money - for protection against bigger storms, for rebuilding the wetlands, for Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's more friendly Medicaid formula.
But one critical need already has ample federal money - more than $1 billion to support the construction of two major hospitals. The problem is that state and city officials are planning the hospitals so ineptly that patients, especially the poor patients who need them most, might not get inside for five or seven more years.
At well over $2 billion, the hospitals are the city's single biggest Katrina recovery project, other than the massive levee upgrades, and the largest New Orleans project ever, equal in cost to 13 Superdomes.
The Obama administration has a responsibility to keep the locals from...
EDITORIAL: After Katrina, whither Charity
Eminent domain is being used by bureaucracies across the country to take people's land, and the public is routinely cut out of the process. A big fight is brewing over this in the Big Easy.
Transparency ought to be the order of the day in a dispute involving a third of a billion dollars, the health of tens of thousands of post-Katrina New Orleanians and the fate of a 25-square-block neighborhood of historic homes and buildings threatened by eminent domain. Instead, secrecy rules.
The immediate dispute involves a federal arbitration panel that is meeting behind closed doors all this week. As Jack Davis explains on the facing page, the panel will decide whether Louisiana State University will be allowed to bilk the Federal Emergency Management Agency of $342 million more than FEMA says is owed as compensation for storm damage to Louisiana's storied Charity Hospital. LSU claimed that the hospital was ruined, but a number of doctors reported that the building was at least semiusable again as early as...
Charity Hospital compensation hearing to pit state, FEMA in private arbitration
The high-stakes, high-profile dispute over how much FEMA owes Louisiana for the damage done to Charity Hospital by Hurricane Katrina will go to binding arbitration Monday, with a week-long hearing conducted completely behind closed doors.
The three-judge panel of the federal Civilian Board of Contract Appeals will then have 60 days - or more if it needs it because of the complexity of the case - to decide whether FEMA owes Louisiana the $150 million it has offered, the $492 million state officials contend is their due or a figure in between.
The process is supposed to definitively settle the battle between the state and federal government over Charity, though the closed nature of the hearing is inviting criticism of its own.
"This is the way they make decisions in...
THE BALLAD OF CHARITY HOSPITAL
Intro: RISE UP FOR CHARITY HOSPITAL, LET'S HEAR IT ONE & ALL,
RISE UP FOR CHARITY HOSPITAL, C'MON, DON'T LET HER FALL !! [repeat]
AN HONOR TO HUMANITYY, A CREDIT TO OUR HISTORY,
UNIQUE, NOT JUST A RARITY, OUR HOSPITAL NAMED CHARITY.
WAY BACK IN 1736, SHE FIRST CAME TO BE
WAY BEFORE THE USA, A MONUMENT TO CHARITY
TO HEAL THE POOR WHO COULD NOT PAY
TO HEALTH TO FIND THEIR WAY.
NOW & THEN BAD POLITICS WOULD RAISE ITS UGLY HEAD
WHEN MANY FAR FROM NEEDY WOULD GRAB THEMSELVES A BED
HISTORY HAS NOT SPARED HER FROM A STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL
BAD FAITH IN HIGHEST PLACES WOULD SOMETIMES TAKE ITS TOLL.
NOW SOME WILL SAY SHE'S JUST TOO OLD
A VICTIM OF KATRINA'S MOLD
FROM AROUND THE STATE, FROM AROUND THE TOWN
THEY'LL SAY, "LET'S TEAR HER DOWN!"
O DEMOLITION! AN AWFUL COST
O SHOULD WE SUFFER SUCH A LOSS?
DESTROY? DON'T SAY THAT ANY MORE!
LET'S THINK INSTEAD, RESTORE!!!
AN HONOR TO HUMANITY A CREDIT TO OUR HISTORY
UNIQUE, NOT JUST A RATITY, OUR HOSPITAL NAMED CHARITY
RISE UP FOR CHARITY HOSPITAL LET'S HEAR IT ONE & ALL
RISE UP FOR CHARITY HOSPITAL C'MON, DON'T LET HER FALL!!!
Nolan Marshall joins 77 community groups in asking the City Council to hold public hearings on new teaching hospital
New Orleans, LA – Council At-Large candidate Nolan Marshall became the first candidate to publicly join over 77 community organizations asking the City Council and the City Planning Commission to hold public hearings on a new teaching hospital, and include the VA and LSU hospitals in the current master planning process.
“Restoring medical services is critical to our recovery” Marshall said, “And insuring that we move forward with our biomedical district in a smart, transparent, and comprehensive manner is critical to our future.”
Marshall said that if elected he will lead the effort to hold public hearings on the new teaching hospital.
Marshall said developing the biosciences industry will create at least 10,000 new jobs and significant new opportunities for community development. Adding, “This is too important to our future to delay with politics as usual and we have to make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Marshall also called on Governor Jindal to expedite an independent cost-benefit analysis comparing plans to restore Charity Hospital and build a new teaching hospital in lower mid-city.
“The responsible way to move forward is to continue to move forward quickly, but whether you want to build a new hospital or restore old charity, we should first agree on all the facts and figures,” Marshall said.
Marshall is Governor Jindal’s appointee to the Greater New Orleans Biosciences Economic Development District Board of Commissioners. The economic development district was created by the State of Louisiana in 2005 and charged with the responsibility of growing both the programmatic and physical development components of the biosciences sector of the New Orleans economy.
Nolan Marshall is running At-Large for City Council. A Democrat, Marshall is associate director of Common Good, and served as president of the Young Leadership Council.
National Trust agrees vets need care ASAP: A letter to the editor
Re: "Let's put veterans' health first," Your Opinions, Dec. 6.
William Detweiler eloquently makes the case that veterans in Southeast Louisiana have waited patiently for the return of medical care that they earned through sacrifice and service, and that restoring medical care to them as soon as possible should be a top priority in New Orleans's ongoing reconstruction.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation couldn't agree more, and we believe the alternatives we and others are advocating would, in fact, return medical care to the region's veterans faster than other proposals now being contemplated.
Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs has funding for...
Let experts guide hospital plan
Re: "2 hospital factions armed with studies," Page 1, Dec. 3.
The complexities of the Charity Hospital arbitration decisions -- i.e., the extent of damage and the pros and cons of a new vs. refurbished hospital -- have not been adequately addressed.
In essence these are two separate decisions. RMJM Hillier clearly overstepped its expertise when it assessed renovation vs. new construction as opposed to assessing damage only.
The purported $283 million in savings is moot if...
Charity Hospital debate turns on distrust of expert assessments
The public record on damage assessments of the Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital building and projections for a new facility in lower Mid-City involves hundreds of man-hours, reams of paper and countless rounds of rhetoric, spread over a period of years.
The latest wrangling centers on a government streamlining commission's recommendation for a fresh look at all aspects of the project, and it turns in part on an academic -- if not outright political -- debate over what constitutes an unbiased study in the lucrative world of public construction.
"There have been lots of studies, but none of them have been independent," said Sen. Jack Donahue, a Covington Republican and contractor who persuaded six of his fellow commissioners to push for a new study.
State Treasurer John Kennedy has taken up the same mantle, while also hammering Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration and the Louisiana State University system for "dithering."
Meanwhile, Jindal and other state officials who will decide whether to accept the commission's recommendation say enough is enough.
They say that a series of state-hired consultants -- all from experienced, respected firms -- support the conclusion that building new is the best option to restore medical services and graduate medical education to a city where that sorely lacks them four years after Hurricane Katrina.
But opponents brandish their own study, also from an experienced, respected firm -- RMJM Hillier -- and paid for by the Foundation for a Historical Louisiana, that lays out the case for...
Nashville, Tenn. (October 15, 2009)
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented its Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation to Sandra Stokes of Baton Rouge, La. The award was one of 23 bestowed by the National Trust during its 2009 National Preservation Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
As vice chair of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Baton Rouge’s premiere historic preservation organization, Sandra Stokes has been a leader in the ongoing effort to protect the state’s cultural and architectural heritage. Since 2007, her laser-like focus has been directed on New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, the second largest hospital in the United States when dedicated in 1939. Until Katrina hit in 2005, the hospital, through many incarnations and in several locations, had served the city’s indigent population since the 18th century. Now, Louisiana State University is considering abandoning the Art Deco icon and flattening blocks of historic homes in the surrounding neighborhood to build a new medical center.
Sandra Stokes believes that the vacant Charity Hospital building presents an opportunity that the State has never had before: the complete transformation of a historically significant icon into a world-class medical facility. In addition, gutting Charity Hospital and transforming it into a state-of-the-art medical facility would provide an economic boost to downtown New Orleans, as well as saving a historic neighborhood of badly needed workforce housing.
A highly effective advocate and an impressive spokesperson, Stokes—along with a committed team including Walter Gallas, Jack Davis and Peter Brink of the National Trust—has generated an impressive, grassroots effort in support of “Big Charity.” A skilled lobbyist, she has talked her way into meetings with decision makers, winning friends and getting results. A filmmaker by profession, with experience in commercial production and marketing, she has used her investigative skills to tenaciously root out misinformation and dig for the truth.
“Once a prestigious center of medical training and a beacon for public health care, Charity Hospital now faces an uncertain future,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “While no one knows yet how this preservation battle will end, we do know that without Sandra Stokes, we wouldn’t have a chance. She is the cheerleader who rallies her colleagues when their spirits flag – and the general who inspires them to keep up the fight.”
Presented for the first time this year, the Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement recognizes an individual who has made extraordinary contributions – including significant personal intervention, advocacy, or development efforts – towards saving a historic place during the past year. The award is named in honor of the National Trust’s longtime senior vice president of programs, who is retiring this year after twenty years of service.
The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation. The winners of the National Preservation Awards will appear in the November/December issue of Preservation Magazine and online at www.PreservationNation.org/awards.
To download high resolution images of this year’s National Preservation Award winners, visit www.PreservationNation.org/press
Independent Study of Medical Center Complex Requested by Commission on Streamlining Government
In a big step forward in the fight to save Charity Hospital and the Lower Mid-City neighborhood, the Louisiana Commission on Streamlining Government passed a motion seeking an independent study of the proposed $1.2 billion LSU medical complex and alternatives. The commission, which is spearheaded by State Treasurer John Kennedy and is tasked with eliminating wasteful projects and inefficient programs, held a hearing on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 in which a 7-3 motion passed calling for an independent study. The motion would require an evaluation of the business model guiding LSU's plan for a new hospital, and seeks a study of a new hospital, the use of Charity gutted and renovated, and other alternatives.
Although an earlier study conducted by RMJM for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana showed the benefits of reuse of Charity hospital, a new study would...
When in doubt, commission another study.
More than four years after Hurricane Katrina knocked Charity Hospital out of commission, the political battle over what should be built in its place continues to befuddle and divide state officials.
The latest episode came Tuesday, when a panel tasked with shrinking the size of state government voted 7-3 in Baton Rouge to recommend that a study be done to evaluate the costs and benefits of gutting and rehabilitating the 1939 art deco building versus building a new teaching hospital in lower Mid-City.
Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Covington, sponsored the motion after two hours of testimony from people on both sides of the issue.
"There have been a lot of studies, but there hasn't been an independent one," Donahue said.
It is far from clear whether another study will...
November 17, 2009
| Watch this Meeting
Part 1 | Part 2
|9:00 A.M. SCR-A|
Baton Rouge - LSU Health Science Center's plan to transform part of Mid-city into a bio-medical corridor may have hit a snag Tuesday.
The state's Streamlining Government Commission voted to hire an independent consultant to study whether the 70 acre, billion dollar project makes sense.
People who want the existing Charity Hospital building renovated rather than rebuilt consider this a victory.
The recommendations that come out of ...
The private firms commissioned by the state to review hurricane-related damage to Charity Hospital made a series of errors that helped produce overinflated estimates of how much Louisiana should be reimbursed, FEMA says in documents filed this week with a federal arbitration panel.
The filing by the Federal Emergency Management Agency also alleges that the three consulting firms hired by the state to perform damage estimates were not truly independent, as they have ongoing financial relationships with the state and therefore have an incentive to produced biased cost estimates.
As it has said in the past, FEMA's report says that the state failed to properly safeguard the building after Katrina and that much of the hospital's pitiful post-storm condition was caused by...
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced the recipients of the 2009 National Preservation Awards. The annual awards celebrate individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose contributions represent success in preserving, rehabilitating or interpreting America's architectural and cultural heritage.
"All across the country, communities are refusing to let their much-loved landmarks be lost and, by saving them, are helping to...
A panel looking for ways to downsize state government recommended today that the state scrap its plans to build a new teaching hospital in lower-Mid City in favor of gutting and rebuilding the shuttered Charity Hospital.
The resolution carries no official weight, and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has given no indication of backing away from its commitment to building a $1.2 billion, 424-bed teaching hospital that would sit adjacent to a new Veterans Affairs hospital.
The resolution, approved without objection by an “efficiency and benchmarking” subcommittee chaired by state Treasurer John Kennedy, marks the first time a state panel has endorsed a plan advanced last year by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.
An architectural review commissioned by...
Re: "New med center will be a boon for downtown, " Your Opinions, Sept. 16. Contrary to comments by Downtown Development District CEO Kurt Weigle, our in-depth review has demonstrated that Charity can be re-used to house a modern medical complex. With careful planning and design, it could be a state-of-the-art hospital at a lower cost, and with direct economic impact sooner than any other alternative.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana selected international architects RMJM in 2008 to...
My house was finally broken into, after 15 years of waiting for it to happen. It used to happen to other people. Now it has happened to me. Luckily, I own more or less nothing of any value to a thief, except for a handful of small items, which they took. They also managed to ransack the place pretty well. "Trashed" would be the word. The break-in happened the day before the Katrina anniversary. On the same day, I heard that our governor signed an agreement that would allow marshals and bulldozers to come in and seize hundreds of people's homes in lower Mid-City to make room for a hospital complex that could easily be built on a different site.
Yes, I am upset that a thief broke in. But nobody is coming to take a house that I rebuilt with four years of hard labor after the levee failures. The city that I fought to come back to has not decided to summarily wipe away all my hard work and faith. That is happening to other people.
Four years after Katrina, New Orleans is at a crossroads ...
Around New Orleans • Added by the Times-Picayune on August 31, 2009 at 8:36 PM
DAVID GRUNFELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Rebirth and Hot 8 Brass Bands lead a second line parade to save Charity Hospital up Tulane Avenue, as they follow the footprint of the proposed Lower Mid-City hospital , Monday August 31, 2009. The second line was sponsored by SaveCharityHospital.com, the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force and the Committee to Reopen Charity Hospital.
For decades, LSU was the proverbial 800-pound gorilla of Louisiana politics. There was virtually nothing the Ole War Skule couldn’t get out of a governor or lawmakers. In fact, governors often were LSU’s most effective lobbyists. No longer.
LSU’s flagging political fortunes are partly a result of legislative term limits (many freshmen lawmakers are not beholden or connected to LSU), but mostly they reflect the university’s own failure to recognize changing political realities — particularly the one about it no longer being the 800-pound gorilla.
Case in point: the controversy surrounding the proposed $1.2 billion LSU teaching hospital in New Orleans.
By way of disclosure, this newspaper signed on in support of the LSU-VA plan early. Conceptually, there’s a lot to like about the idea. Unfortunately, the...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Saturday August 22, 2009, 8:10 PM
State officials are considering spending an estimated $40 million of federal money to gut Charity Hospital despite the lack of any decision about its future use, Louisiana Recovery Authority chief Paul Rainwater said.
Such a move is months away at the soonest, and officials have not determined exactly what the gutting would involve. But Rainwater said early talks have begun to underscore the commitment of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to preserve the 70-year-old building that has been shuttered since September 2005.
"There's such an emotional attachment to that building. It has to be preserved," he said of the Art Deco structure recognized for its architectural significance and its longtime distinction as a teaching hospital serving New Orleans' poor and uninsured.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 • By Bill Barrow, Staff Writer
State-hired architects unveiled their latest conceptual designs Tuesday for a proposed $1.2 billion academic medical center in lower Mid-City and drew a cacophony of rebuke because their plan envisions six city blocks of parking between downtown and the new hospital.
Even supporters of the Mid-City hospital project questioned the wisdom of turning half of a 35-acre footprint into a landscaped parking lot that would effectively split the city's medical corridor, cutting off the new hospital and the planned adjacent Veterans Affairs hospital from Tulane Medical Center on the river side of South Claiborne Avenue.
"That is way too much surface parking," Leslie Alley, deputy director of the City Planning Commission, said during a forum called to satisfy federal historic preservation laws.
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Tuesday August 18, 2009, 8:13 PM
State-hired architects unveiled their latest conceptual designs Tuesday for a proposed $1.2 billion academic medical center in lower Mid-City and drew a cacophony of rebuke because their plan envisions six city blocks of parking between downtown and the new hospital.
Even supporters of the Mid-City hospital project questioned the wisdom of turning half of a 35-acre footprint into a landscaped parking lot that would effectively split the city's medical corridor, cutting off the new hospital and the planned adjacent federal Veterans Affairs hospital from Tulane Medical Center on the river side of South Claiborne Avenue.
"That is way too much surface parking, " Leslie Alley, deputy director of the City Planning Commission, said during a forum called to satisfy federal historic preservation laws.
by Sandra Stokes, Executive Vice Chair - Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Mr. Charlot: Your interview in reference to the recent poll by Smart Growth on WGNO TV last week contained some serious inaccuracies. While I recognize the view of the DDD, there seems to be a grave misconception in the cost figures quoted.
As charged by the legislature in HCR 89, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana hired RMJM Hillier Architects to study Charity Hospital – and only Charity Hospital. The $1.2 billion figure quoted for the proposed new LSU AMC is for the entire complex – including all the ancillary buildings. FHL and RMJM Hillier have never compared the two – and would not without an in-depth study. The scope of HCR 89 was the Charity Hospital building alone.
In order to create an accurate “apples to apples” comparison, the FHL / RMJM Hillier Feasibility Study compared the...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Wednesday August 05, 2009, 12:31 PM
A group that has criticized plans for construction of a new teaching hospital in lower Mid-City is touting a poll it commissioned that suggests New Orleans voters prefer by a two-to-one margin gutting Charity Hospital and building within its shell.
Of the 500 registered voters included in the results -- about 100 from each of the city's five Council districts -- 60 percent said they favored the Charity location downtown. Thirty percent opted for the state's existing plans for a 424-bed, $1.2 billion complex north of South Claiborne Avenue, between Tulane Avenue and Canel Street.
The poll was conducted for Smart Growth Louisiana by Ed Renwick of the Loyola Institute of Politics. Smart Growth is among...
by James Gill, Columnist, The Times-Picayune July 23, 2009 4:48PM
When Mayor Ray Nagin undertook to clear 34 Mid-City acres so the VA could build a new hospital, someone -- a government attorney or a newspaperman, say -- ought to have wondered whether he had the right to do it.
But, until a lawsuit was filed last week, nobody asked the question, at least not in public. People will start saying we are slow on the uptake around here.
It is no secret that the American system of government does not allow for...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Tuesday July 14, 2009, 5:19 PM
Mayor Ray Nagin exceeded his authority under the New Orleans City Charter when he obligated the city to provide land for a federal hospital in Mid-City, four residents assert in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
Wallace Thurman, Sheila Joseph, Veda Manual and Brad Ott are asking Judge Ethel Julien to order the city not to carry out any part of its agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including the initial November 2007 deal and later amendments.
If successful, the suit would...
by Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News • Saturday, July 11, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - The retired army general who commanded military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 questions why Louisiana still hasn't reopened Charity Hospital or built a hospital to replace it.
Shame on us, Lt. General Russel Honore says, that a trauma center once rated one of the best in the nation no longer exists.
Honore has a hard time comprehending...
JUNE 10, 2009 | POLITICS: JOHN MAGINNIS
Providing tickets for legislators to purchase for the national collegiate baseball tournament series at LSU last weekend was the least that school officials could do, given how much tumult, hostility and fear the university's issues have caused at the Capitol this spring.
The flagship's budget woes, leading those of all higher education, have been a source of rancor and tension between lawmakers and the administration. On top of that, an intense power struggle over the size, site and control of LSU's proposed teaching hospital and medical center in New Orleans has landed in the middle of the legislative session. With it comes the renewed bitter rivalry between LSU and Tulane, marked by some condescending statements about the city from the LSU president, veiled threats that the medical school might pull up stakes and an old-fashioned hallway shouting match between the state treasurer and a school official.
The controversy might be worth the unpleasantness if it had something to do with shaping the future of public healthcare and hospitals in Louisiana, but the state overall seems headed in the opposite direction from what it's trying to do in New Orleans. Yet, at $1.2 billion, the fate of the project commands the interest of legislators statewide.
LSU's proposal to build alongside a planned Veterans Administration hospital on a 70-block tract in the middle of the city is opposed by preservationists, some doctors and community groups that want it to rebuild the old hospital, which they argue is the faster, cheaper alternative for restoring a vital health asset. Supportive of their cause is Tulane University, whose medical center would be left isolated downtown if LSU and the VA relocated across elevated Interstate 10.
LSU officials are adamant it will not re-occupy the old building as long as it is responsible for public healthcare in New Orleans. That could change with passage of legislation by Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, which would remove LSU from control of the medical complex and turn that over to an independent board of community stakeholders, including all local universities involved in medical education.
Tucker says he is not opposed to the new hospital complex, but wants LSU to stick to running its medical education program. He gets quiet support on that score from within the LSU community, where there are those who believe its healthcare responsibilities detract from its higher education mission.
Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the medical complex, but says he would sign Tucker's bill if it passes. What the governor really wants, he says, is for LSU to agree to having Tulane and other schools represented on the board of the non-profit governing corporation still to be formed. LSU, at first strongly opposed to power-sharing with Tulane, is becoming more amenable under pressure. If the two schools reach some accord, even at the point of the governor's shotgun, the larger challenge would be reaching a hurricane damage settlement on the old building with FEMA and selling Wall Street on its financial plan--some very big ifs.
That might leave the preservationists feeling jilted, but state and school officials agree that the iconic 1939 structure will be saved and put to new use.
The plan for the new medical complex, given its broad economic development potential, might sound like the future of public healthcare in Louisiana, but it more likely will be the last hospital the state ever builds. LSU has given up on erecting a new hospital in Baton Rouge and instead is forging a partnership with Our Lady of the Lake to train doctors and provide indigent care. The Jindal administration envisions gradually doing the same in other parts of the state. Except in Shreveport, where the high-quality UniversityMedical Center is the model that LSU hopes to emulate in New Orleans.
The state's most forward-looking public hospital--which is ironic, given its original name, Confederate Memorial--trains LSU doctors, treats both private-pay patients and the uninsured, and turns a profit. It also is to its city what LSU had better learn to be in New Orleans, a responsive and respected member of the community.
A fresh look at the state of historic preservation.
By Robert Ivy, FAIA , Architectural Record - Published: June 2009 Issue
After decades of gaining strength as a movement, the battle lines have been drawn again, with a significant structure in peril. The Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, popularly known as Charity Hospital, a looming Art Moderne presence in the Deep South, battered by Hurricane Katrina but apparently structurally intact, now faces a more insidious foe—abandonment—together with the demolition of more than 120 structures in a nearby neighborhood currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But not without a fight.
The contemporary drama pits big money ($2 billion in much-needed investment for New Orleans to become a 21st-century medical Mecca) and power (the Veterans Administration and the Louisiana Office of Facility Planning and Control) against a hard-hit community, organizing and finding its voice after the hurricane, asking to be heard. No one denies that...
By LANNY KELLER , Advocate Opinion page staff - Published: Jun 4, 2009 - Page: 9B
One thing learned fast in Baton Rouge is tyou don’t have to dig very hard to get John V. Lombardi to say what he thinks.
Now, they’re learning the same thing in New Orleans. The blunt Yankee president of the LSU System is a key player in LSU’s plans to create an academic medical center — not, LSU officials say, another Charity Hospital — in the Crescent City.
In a speech to LSU boosters in New Orleans, Lombardi said LSU’s plan for the management of a new facility will work, and just about everyone else involved in the discussion should pipe down.
He said state Treasurer John N. Kennedy “didn’t tell the truth” when questioning LSU’s business plan.
A bill by House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, seeks to...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune - Wednesday June 03, 2009, 8:04 PM
BATON ROUGE -- With little debate, the House voted 94-2 Wednesday for a proposal to block the acquisition of land for the proposed New Orleans teaching hospital until a key legislative budget panel approves a new financing plan.
Critics of the hospital plans cast House Bill 780 by Rep. Rick Nowlin, R-Natchitoches, as a common-sense way to protect private property. State officials and Louisiana State University executives who run the state's public hospital system, warn that it could delay an already lagging project.
Responding to questions from New Orleans lawmakers, Nowlin said he supports a new hospital and has no interest in...
Posted by James Gill, Columnist, The Times-Picayune June 02, 2009 4:59PM
Pearls before swine is putting it mildly. The sparkling intellects of LSU offer New Orleans a lifeline, but the populace is too stupid and backward to be roused from its torpor. Time is running out to get the rabble in line.
So says LSU President John Lombardi, who nevertheless remains determined to save New Orleans from itself. Lombardi is just the man for the job, being, as he is fond of pointing out, from the efficient north.
Lombardi got on his hind legs in New Orleans last week to rally the LSU troops in support of the "major academic medical center" proposed for a vast tract in Mid-City. Lombardi's plans to win over the doubters evidently do not include a charm offensive.
He has "never met a place like this, " where people speak in a "code" he neither understands nor wishes to understand. He doesn't know...
City planning panel urged to get involved
Friday, May 29, 2009 By Bruce Eggler - Staff writer
From musician Dr. John to a half-dozen real doctors, dozens of New Orleanians turned out Thursday to proclaim their affection for Charity Hospital and its longtime home on Tulane Avenue, and to urge the City Planning Commission to get involved in efforts to derail plans for a new state teaching hospital and medical campus across South Claiborne Avenue.
Only a handful of people in a crowd of nearly 200 at the City Council chamber spoke in favor of plans to build new Louisiana State University and Veterans Affairs hospitals in lower Mid-City.
Most speakers endorsed a proposal to...
Panel OKs bill that could slow project
Thursday, May 28, 2009, By Bill Barrow - Capital bureau
BATON ROUGE -- Marking the latest wrinkle in the ongoing saga over a proposed New Orleans teaching hospital, a House panel approved a bill Wednesday that could slow the state's acquisition of lower Mid-City land where the complex is to be constructed.
But state authorities say they are within weeks of securing much of the necessary land, with no intentions of altering course as House Bill 780 by Rep. Rick Nowlin, R-Natchitoches, moves through the Legislature.
"I have no plans to stop what I'm doing," said Pam Perkins, general counsel for the Division of Administration.
Perkins is leading the team conducting title searches, appraisals, negotiations with property owners and, where needed, expropriation of 70 acres for the state teaching hospital and adjacent U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.Nowlin's bill would...
Rep. Rick Nowlin doesn't hail from New Orleans or the surrounding area, but the Natchitoches Republican has dived into the wrangling over the proposed state teaching hospital slated to be built in lower Mid-City.
Nowlin is proposing legislation that would block the state from buying or expropriating land intended for the medical complex until its financing proposal is approved by the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee.
House Bill 780 is scheduled for a hearing today in the House Health & Welfare Committee, as the state continues preparations for...
If the development of the LSU and VA hospitals in New Orleans is derailed, it will not be because of "misguided preservationists." It will not be because of anyone's desire to preserve an architectural landmark which, after all, no one has said would be destroyed (presumably, the old Charity Hospital building would be reused in some way). It will be because LSU and the state have pursued their plans so stupidly.
For their most basic funding they have relied on money from FEMA, which will never materialize. They seek to destroy a neighborhood in a city where so many neighborhoods were already destroyed by Katrina.They ignored environmental regulations, opening their...
by Bruce Eggler, The Times-Picayune, Wednesday May 27, 2009, 6:30 PM
After months of calling for such a meeting, critics of plans for new Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University hospitals in New Orleans will get a chance Thursday to voice their opinions to a city agency.
Many of the critics, however, are likely to be disappointed with the results and even the format of the session.
The City Planning Commission will hold the meeting in the City Council chamber at City Hall. It is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and to run as long as five hours.
Under special rules approved Tuesday by the commission, members of the public wishing to speak must sign up by 7 p.m. They will be limited to three minutes each and may not ask to allocate their time to another speaker.
The commission has emphasized that it does not have jurisdiction over the $2 billion hospital projects in lower Mid-City and does not intend to take any action as a result of today's session, which is being termed a "special forum" rather than a public hearing because the commission has nothing on its agenda requiring a vote.
Planning Director Yolanda Rodriguez said information gathered at the meeting will be reviewed by those writing the city's master plan, now under preparation by a team of consultants led by the Boston planning firm Goody Clancy.Under the format approved by the commission, the forum is...
Re: "House votes to shift LSU's hospital power," Page A4, May 19.
As presidents of our respective universities, we support Rep. Jim Tucker's House Bill 830. Our universities have proudly served the indigent population in the metropolitan area through Charity and University Hospitals for decades. HB 830 will transfer the ownership of Charity and University Hospitals to an independent Board of Trustees. The board, in turn, would authorize the management of the Medical Center of Louisiana-New Orleans' assets by a new non-profit entity, the University Hospital Corp.
The University Hospital Corp. board would consist of one representative from each of the five universities originally involved in Medical Center of Louisiana-New Orleans and four independent directors. Independent members for either board will...
Your Help is Needed to Pass HB780
Ensuring Fiscal Responsibility and Common Sense in Planning for New Orleans Healthcare is Imperative in Saving Historic Charity Hospital and the Mid-City Neighborhood.
On Wednesday, May 27th, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee will consider HB780. Sponsored by the committee’s Vice Chair, Representative Rick Nowlin, this measure would require LSU to have a financial plan for the proposed New Orleans medical center approved by the state legislature before being allowed to acquire any property.
Fiscal responsibility during a difficult economy means making sure that LSU has a sound business plan to operate its proposed $1.2 billion hospital before being allowed to buy or seize land in the New Orleans Mid-City neighborhood.
Fiscal responsibility also requires evaluating less expensive options. For instance, a state-of-the-art hospital could be built inside the gutted shell of Charity Hospital -- saving $283 million over new construction and opening years earlier, while avoiding the expropriation of private property.
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune - Saturday May 09, 2009, 9:57 PM
BATON ROUGE -- Architects recently unveiled renderings for the teaching hospital that Louisiana State University System executives and state facilities managers have envisioned for lower Mid-City since before Hurricane Katrina.
The three concepts vary, but all depict a massive medical complex -- three wings of in-patient beds, a clinic building, a diagnostic and treatment wing with the emergency department, a parking garage and a central energy plant -- that would reach every block in an area bound by South Claiborne Avenue, Tulane Avenue, Galvez Street and Canal Street. But, in fact, fewer than half the structures in the drawings actually make up the proposed $1.2 billion, 424-bed hospital.
Architects dubbed that "phase one" as they presented the drawings. The rest of the buildings -- duplicates of everything except the energy plant -- are designated as "future" construction in "phase two."
It is not unusual for such a venture to include several stages with room for expansion. Various documents drafted during the federal planning process have referred to the "future needs" of both the state complex and the adjoining U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, slated to be built across Galvez to South Rocheblave Street.
Yet the renderings raise new questions about the project, particularly given uncertainty about how the state will pay for...
by Jonathan Tilove, The Times-Picayune - Thursday May 14, 2009, 9:10 PM
WASHINGTON -- Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore said Thursday that Charity Hospital could and should have been reopened after Hurricane Katrina, and that Louisiana needs to pony up the money for a new hospital and stop dunning FEMA for money that's not going to come.
"The state of Louisiana needs to pay for its own damn medical center, " said Honore, who was the commander of Joint Task Force-Katrina in the wake of the 2005 hurricane.
Honore made his remarks in his trademark blunt but genial style after leaving a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he testified that The Federal Emergency Management Agency should be removed from the Department of Homeland Security and restored to its status as an independent agency, with a seat at Cabinet meetings.
In remarks before the committee, and in comments afterward, Honore said...
Posted by James Gill, Columnist, The Times-Picayune May 14, 2009 5:33PM
LSU says its spiffy new medical complex, after gobbling up a vast tract of Mid-City, can be ready to open in 2013. If LSU says it, that should be good enough for anybody. It won't open in 2013 for sure. Whether it ever will is the question. The answer looks increasingly like no.
Perhaps this is a shame; with the up-to-the-minute plant envisaged by LSU, New Orleans could pack in more invalids than Lourdes. The streets would be thronged by doctors, medical researchers and students. The economy would just hum along, and the old town would enjoy new prestige across the land.
So say proponents of the new complex, and nobody can deny that we could use the boost that would come from a medical campus also incorporating the new Veterans Affairs hospital, which is due to open in 2012. That date is a real one, for the VA has its money lined up. Not so LSU.
That has not prevented LSU from...
$283 Million Can Be Saved by Renewing Charity Hospital
As state legislators deliberate over a tight budget, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) has a tip for them: “Want to save $283 million? Reopen, Restore Charity Hospital.” The message—hard to overlook—is expressed in a billboard on Interstate 10 near the Capitol.
One part of FHL’s continuing educational campaign, the billboard joins another tool, a new four-minute video demonstrating how reuse of New Orleans’ Charity Hospital can save money, time and an historic neighborhood while providing a world-class medical center. The video can be viewed at www.fhl.org.
FHL is also among 60 national and local organizations asking the Governor to call for an independent cost-benefit analysis comparing the two competing plans—one, to renew Charity; the other, LSU’s plan for total new construction—before committing $1.2 billion of taxpayers’ money.
“FHL has offered an ‘apples-to-apples’ analysis comparing the cost of gutting and rebuilding a new state-of-the-art hospital inside Charity to the cost of constructing a new LSU hospital, each with 1,000,000 square feet of space,” said Sandra Stokes, FHL Executive Vice-Chair. Experts calculated a $283 million savings by re-using the gutted building with its irreplaceable limestone shell and coupling that with available new market and historic tax credits. Stokes says the FHL/RMJM Architects plan would cost $550 million while the LSU plan would cost $833 million, a 34% savings on the project cost for the hospital portion of the complex alone. Similar savings could be realized using nearby existing buildings for clinics and other structures in the medical complex. “More importantly, restoring Charity would place all of the major medical entities near one another, offering additional economic development benefits and opportunities for shared services between medical and teaching institutions. All of the benefits of building a new hospital could be achieved by restoring Big Charity, but more efficiently.
Besides costing taxpayers more, building the proposed LSU/VA medical complexes would leave Charity and the surrounding buildings in the Central Business empty and abandoned and would destroy approximately 260 homes and businesses in the New Orleans Mid-City National Register District, said Stokes.
The FHL and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with 58 other organizations, have asked the New Orleans City Council to hold public hearings, and along with the New Orleans Planning Commission, to include the medical district in the Master Plan now being developed.
In response to a request from the Louisiana Legislature, FHL developed a request for proposals and commissioned RMJM Hillier Architects, specialists in healthcare design and preservation, to evaluate the Big Charity Hospital and determine the advisability of repairing or restructuring the facility.
The National Trust named Charity Hospital and the adjacent neighborhood to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2008.
Charity Hospital was designed and built in the 1930s as a WPA project and it is deeply rooted in Louisiana medical education and cultural history.
Carolyn Bennett, FHL Executive Director states, “The renew, restore, reopen hospital plan clearly demonstrates the viability of Charity’s original architectural structure and its stability. “This building was constructed ‘ahead of its time’ with tall floor to floor heights, 24 elevators, and many features still placed into modern day medical facilities. “It can easily be a state of the art modern teaching and service hospital all done faster, cheaper, and with less destruction.”
The 60 organizations involved in the call for open medical facility planning in New Orleans, can be found at here. Additional information can be viewed at www.savecharityhospital.com and www.preservationnation.org.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 • James Gill
The allegation that state and LSU officials are telling a pack of lies in order to screw the feds out of several hundred million dollars does not come from a source with any claim to disinterest.
It comes from a coalition that wants LSU to abandon its plans for a sparkling new medical complex and reopen Big Charity.
But the coalition has produced plenty of evidence that must require FEMA to consider the possibility of jiggery-pokery.For LSU the stakes are...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Friday May 01, 2009, 4:59 PM
Accusing the federal government of violating its own planning laws, a historic preservation group wants a court to block land acquisition and construction for the joint Veterans Affairs and state teaching hospitals slated to be built in lower Mid-City.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation filed its 23-page complaint
this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It names the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as defendants.
FEMA is involved because...
I want to alert you to a legal action taken today by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia against VA and FEMA for the agencies' failures to follow federal environmental requirements in their reviews for the LSU and VA medical centers in New Orleans. The National Trust took this action on its own. We are sharing this with you as a point of information only. Please see the attached press release for details.
We wanted to let you know because your organization has supported a more thorough analysis and greater transparency in the processes surrounding the plans for the new LSU and VA hospitals in New Orleans' Mid-City neighborhood. Your organization joined in the call in New Orleans asking Gov. Jindal to order an analysis of the two plans for a new LSU hospital; asking the city planning commission and city council to hold public hearings on the plans for the LSU and VA medical centers; and demanding that these plans be included in the city's master planning process, which is underway. In fact, the need for an independent review is even more important now, after we learned at the FEMA meeting last Wednesday evening that the state wants to take considerably more land than it needs for the proposed $1.2 billion LSU medical center, and may use much of the extra land for commercial development.
We continue to support an independent analysis of the two LSU hospital plans—which could have implications for the VA plan—but we felt that the impending threat to the neighborhood as well as the larger federal policy issues warranted this action.
There are now 60 organizations who have responded, and they are listed in the second attachment. Thank you for your involvement in this important matter.
Walter W. Gallas, AICP | Director| New Orleans Field Office
National Trust for Historic Preservation | 923 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans LA 70130
Phone: 504.636.3048 | Fax: 504.636-3074 | Email: Walter_Gallas@nthp.org | www.preservationnation.org
Dr. John: “Call Governor Jindal and Tell Him to Open Charity Hospital” Musician’s Video Message to Fellow New Orleanians
Doctors for Charity Hospital, a fast growing coalition of health care professionals, have been joined by “The Doctor” – Dr. John himself – in calling for reopening Charity Hospital. Calling himself a “Charity Hospital baby,” the world-famous singer, piano player and band leader is appearing in television commercials that begin airing on Wednesday, April 15. Dr. John asks the people of New Orleans to tell Governor Bobby Jindal to seek the restoration of Charity Hospital.
Dr. John speaks on behalf of the Charity Hospital babies, musicians, health care professionals and numerous New Orleans luminaries who were part of the Charity Hospital community. The video message airing on local stations, along with a full page ad in Offbeat magazine’s Jazz Fest issue were paid for by Doctors for Charity Hospital, according to Dr. Sissy Sartor, M.D., a leader of the organization.
“The health of the community is our priority. We need to get healthcare back quickly in New Orleans,” says Dr. Sartor. “This is a direct appeal to citizens to write or call Governor Jindal, asking him to re-open Charity hospital.”
In the television ad, Dr. John declares that Charity Hospital is near and dear to his heart and that if the restoration is the fastest and cheapest, then the governor needs to hear from the community. He asks the people of New Orleans to call the governor at 225-342-7015 or to email him at email@example.com.
“Doctors for Charity Hospital are physicians in the community and across the country who trained and worked in Charity. They believe that rebuilding Charity Hospital is the fastest method of getting a teaching hospital in place and healthcare returned to the community.
“We need Governor Jindal and other elected officials to hear the voices of all of New Orleans, “ said Dr. Sartor. Other physicians can join our group or make donations at www.fhl.org, she added.
The television commercial begins airing Wednesday at 6 p.m. on WWL and WVUE. The full page ad will appear in OffBEAT’s April 20 edition, which will reach Jazz Festival participants. The television spot and print ad can be viewed at www.fhl.org.
48 ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON GOVERNOR AND CITY LEADERS FOR OPEN PROCESS IN DECISION-MAKING FOR MAJOR HOSPITALS
They ask Gov. Jindal for cost-benefit analysis of two competing LSU plans, and ask City Council and Planning Commission to include hospitals in the New Orleans master plan.
New Orleans, La. (Wednesday, March 25, 2009)—With the debate over locating new LSU and VA hospitals in Mid-City continuing, 41 local and national organizations—including a diverse range of community groups, professional organizations and planning associations—are asking state and city leaders to engage the public more directly in the search for a solution.
At a press conference held today, the organizations asked Gov. Jindal to commission an independent, third-party comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of...
by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune • Wednesday March 25, 2009, 8:27 AM
Opponents of state and federal plans to build adjoining hospitals in lower Mid-City are renewing their calls to revisit the proposals and modify the planning process.
The request, to be made formally at a news conference this morning, comes from 38 organizations ranging from...
Bill Barrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3452
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Re: " Unhealthy attitude infects LSU," Other Opinions, March 20.
James Gill raised provocative questions and issues in his column.
I believe it is constructive and healthy, especially in this rapidly changing health care and economic environment, for us to continue to discuss several questions critical to the future success of...
Scott Cowen - President
Posted by Letters to the Editor March 24, 2009 4:44PM
Re: "Unhealthy attitude infects LSU, " Other Opinions, March 20. Does LSU really care about returning health care to the New Orleans area? Unfortunately, I fear the answer may be no.
As James Gill so succinctly suggests, LSU...
Sissy Sartor, M.D. • New Orleans
Re: "Unhealthy attitude infects LSU, " Other Opinions, March 20. Thanks to James Gill for his honest column about LSU's shenanigans. Many citizens are very angry about...
Ladies and gentlemen –
The proposed LSU/VA medical complex is the most significant economic/health decision New Orleans will make in our life time. It is, moreover, a decision that is being made behind closed doors. No public hearings have been held by the City Planning Commission or the City Council on this $2 billion project; no evaluation of alternative proposals for the medical complex have taken place by the Planning Commission staff or Goody Clancy – the planning firm currently preparing a Master Plan and new zoning ordinance for the city. And the city is an active participant in the LSU/VA decision, with a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state, a memorandum of understanding with the VA, a site selection by the city, a promise of $79 million to the state, and a temporary moratorium on issuing building permits in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood.
Does New Orleans remain a city mindlessly driven by special interest groups where “kissing the ring” of public officials and “planning by surprise” remain the order of the day? Do the concepts of “transparency,” “sustainability” and “citizen involvement in the planning process,” that the city embraced in the post-Katrina era no longer have value for the community? And was the vote for a Charter change to structure citizens into the planning process and require the city to prepare a Master Plan with the force of law a meaningless gesture that has and will have little or no effect in the real world? We shall soon see . . . .
I ask that you forward this “Call for Evaluation of Alternative Hospital Plans and Public Hearings” to civic and neighborhood organizations that support responsible land use planning for New Orleans. Request them to join with the organizations listed in the attachment that are calling for public hearings and evaluations. Organizations wishing to join the coalition of interest groups supporting responsible planning should notify Michelle Kimball at email@example.com. Organizations outside of New Orleans and Louisiana are welcome.
Your consideration of this request is appreciated,
William E. Borah
President, Smart Growth for Louisiana
533 Esplanade Avenue, Suite B
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 942-3176 Fax
Posted by James Gill, Columnist, The Times-Picayune March 20, 2009 2:48AM
If I want to put the arm on the taxpayer for $1.2 billion, and commandeer a vast chunk of downtown, I think I make nice. I figure I need friends and everyone must be convinced I am on the level. But LSU, which wants to abandon Charity and build a glittering new hospital nearby, is putting a lot of noses out of joint. It is in a big row with FEMA, and threatens to give its neighbor, the Tulane Medical Center, the bum's rush.
LSU does not even pretend to listen to the preservationists, who come with...
Full article here.
New Orleans needs the best in health care, a state-of-the-art teaching hospital, and economic development driven by a world-class biosciences district. The challenge remains—How best to achieve this?
At the direction of the Louisiana State Legislature, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana commissioned internationally renowned architects RMJM Hillier to do an independent feasibility study of Charity Hospital. This study found that building a 21st century hospital inside the shell of Charity Hospital will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, help revitalize the Central Business District, put the medical complex into operation at least two years sooner and avoid the destruction of badly needed workforce housing in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood.
The study has been called into question by some, creating confusion around this important project. State and city government can test these claims by calling for an independent cost-benefit analysis that compares the RMJM Hillier findings with LSU’s plan for its proposed hospital.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Smart Growth for Louisiana, and the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation are calling for such a side-by-side evaluation of the two plans.
We are also asking the New Orleans City Council and the City Planning Commission to get involved in evaluating the plans and their critical importance to the economic development of New Orleans. The LSU and VA hospitals may cost $2 billion and will dramatically change the urban environment of the CBD and Mid-City, but neither the council nor the commission has held a public hearing to discuss the hospitals’ impact. Nor does the city’s highly anticipated new master plan for land use and zoning—which is currently being drafted—deal with the hospital plan.
If LSU and the City of New Orleans are allowed to proceed without genuine public participation, this will set a dangerous precedent for any future project in any neighborhood in the city.
We ask your organization to join us in:
The hospitals and the proposed biomedical research district make up the biggest recovery project since Katrina and one of the most expensive economic development efforts this region has ever conceived. To make sure our community and our economy get the maximum benefit from this major investment, decisions need to be made in the open – with the transparency that comes from informing the public and giving opportunities for open participation at the local government level. We believe that a careful study of all the medical, financial and urban design issues, facts and alternatives will make this project a winner for everyone.
To learn more about the RMJM Hillier plan, visit the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s website at www.fhl.org.
To lend your organization’s voice to this call for public hearings and evaluation of medical complex alternatives, please email Michelle Kimball at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gray Area depicts “Preferred LSU / VA site” 70+ acres (263 Structures) slated for Appropriation and Demolition.
Red Area shows Current LSU / VA site
(Note lack of professed shared services.)
Ultra resolution image here.
Richard Moe, president, National Trust for Historic, Preservation; Washington
While rightly pointing out that the fate of Charity Hospital is one of the most contentious issues in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, a USA TODAY article missed an important part of the dispute. Not only is there a fight over money between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Louisiana State University, but there is also disagreement on LSU's plan to demolish a historic neighborhood to build a new hospital ("La. hospital sits empty as debate rages over FEMA funds," News, Feb. 9).
Residents, community groups and preservationists are...
Full article here.
Walter Gallas and Sandra Stokes are interviewed during the PRC and Louisiana Landmarks gathering.
View the WWLTV new story here.
Group hopes to sell Jindal on alternative
Friday, February 13, 2009
By Bill Barrow - Staff writer
Despite insistence from Louisiana State University System officials that they have made a final decision to build a new academic medical complex in lower Mid-City, opponents of the plan continue...
Locating the new, modern LSU teaching hospital within the footprint of the building that housed Charity Hospital in New Orleans will save taxpayers more than $283 Million, Sandra Stokes, executive vice-chairman of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, told the Baton Rouge Press Club today.
Citing a $600,000 study conducted at the direction of a Louisiana House Resolution and funded with private donations, Stokes said the building is structurally sound and can be configured to support a modern state-of-the-art medical facility. “There is no down-side to using the existing building and in fact, it would be the choice of anyone interested in the fiscally conservative and strategic best practices solution to providing a teaching hospital with excellent health care for the New Orleans community.”
“It’s the fastest and cheapest way to get this project done.”
The firm of RMJM Hillier conducted the study. They are the 7th largest architectural firm in the world and have won international accolades for their work.
“If you read the study, then you can’t help but get it – this is the most economical and fastest solution,” Stokes said. “But you have to wonder if anyone is bothering to read it.”
“For example, before the House Appropriations Committee a member of the Jindal Administration said that the limestone façade of the building would have to be removed to replace rusted connectors. However, our engineers used thermal imaging, the most advanced technology available. Our report clearly states that there are no connectors. Instead the stones are keyed together in an interlocking system that the architects say will last for at least another 70 years” Stokes said. It was also reported at the hearing that new buildings are built with a life expectancy of about 30 years.
“LSU officials have said they must have a “new” hospital for it to be a first-rate facility. Yet look at Johns Hopkins, at University of Alabama at Birmingham, at St. Louis Medical Center and you will see a dense urban mix of buildings. The reasons given do not mesh with the facts,” Stokes said.
“The Foundation for Historical Louisiana is a preservation organization, but we were tasked with conducting this study because of our knowledge-base and expertise in old buildings. This is not just about preservation – it’s about doing the best job with taxpayer money.
“Preserving this landmark building and an historic New Orleans neighborhood is just a wonderful bonus,” Stokes said.
To view a copy of the study and other documents relating to the discussion on where to locate the LSU teaching hospital go to www.fhl.org.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana also discussed at Baton Rouge Press Club two other endangered projects, the LSU Huey P. Long Fieldhouse & Pool and the Lincoln Theatre in Baton Rouge, an important social and historical meeting place for African Americans.
The Huey P. Long Fieldhouse & Pool, which is currently closed and condemned, is one of the original buildings on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the FHL is currently working to help raise $40,000 to conduct a feasibility study for its potential renovation and restoration.
The Lincoln Theater is located on Myrtle Street in Old South Baton Rouge. It is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is a landmark of the Modern Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. met at the Lincoln Theatre with Baton Rouge leaders in advance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
More information on these projects can be obtained by calling 225-387-2464 or via email@example.com.
After months of relatively quiet planning for a new academic medical complex in New Orleans, the temperature is rising between Louisiana State University System officials and opponents of the school's proposed site in lower Mid-City.
LSU leaders say they are reacting to what they characterize as ...
WGNO 26 News Story: Sheldon Fox is featured in this news clip.
WGNO 26 News Story (PDF)
Four part response to the House Appropriations Committee meeting from the FHL and RMJM Hillier. This response includes the following documents:
1. Letter to Rep. Fannin from FHL Executive Vice Chair - Sandra Stokes
2. RMJM Response
3. Cost estimates
4.First Class Regional Medical Center Examples
Four Part Response (PDF)
The Chariy Hospital issue made its rounds in the news media this week. Here are some of the highlighted articles and stories.
Monday, January 19
The week started with –Lolis Eric Elie – “Done Deal? Many Hope not” Is it a Done Deal -
Wednesday, January 21
WWLTV Coverage: - VCPORA coverage
Wednesday, January 21
WDSU – TV Go to last 30 days and type in Charity Release of new site plans at VCPORA – preparing for the hearing
Wednesday, January 21 / Thursday 22
Jack Davis, Brilliant OP Ed - “Hospital at Risk”
Thursday, January 22
Bill Barrow in Times Pic “LSUVA Hospital Hearing Set Today”
Thursday, January 22
Advocate Letter to the Editor from Sandra
Thursday January 22 – 1:30pm
Associated Press – “Lawmakers Weigh Public Hospital Plans”
Thursday January 22
WWL TV Evening News – COVERAGE OF HEARING
Thursday January 22
Associate Press – “Lawmakers questions public hospital plans”
Friday January 23
Times Pic –– “Promised Synergy Lacking in Plans”
While LSU testifies to savings due to shared support and connectivity in BR while Section 106 Meeting in NO revealed preliminary designs with no synergy….
House Appropriations Committee to Hear Charity Hospital Feasibility Study
Thursday, January 22, 9:30 a.m. at State Capitol
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) will present a Charity Hospital Feasibility Study to the House Appropriations Committee at a hearing scheduled on Thursday, January 22, at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol, Committee Room 6. Presenting the study will be FHL and the architects and engineers from RMJM Hillier, who were commissioned last spring to do the report.
FHL will show that its comprehensive “Renew Restore Reopen” plan is less costly, less time-consuming to build, and less destructive than the $1.2 billion new hospital option now under consideration by LSU. “The study shows that Charity Hospital’s design was ahead of its time and that it can be readily transformed into a state-of-the-art medical and teaching facility,” says FHL Executive Vice Chair Sandra Stokes.
“With funding of the LSU plan still to be determined, this legislative hearing comes at an opportune time,” stated Stokes. “We look forward to an open and frank discussion.”
The plan to transform the hospital is a major preservation advocacy effort of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). The National Trust named the hospital and the adjacent historic neighborhood to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2008. “The proposed redevelopment plans for the LSU and VA hospitals will have an enormous impact on New Orleans. With so much at stake, we are pleased to see that there is still time for careful consideration of all of the options on the table,” said Walter Gallas, New Orleans field officer for the National Trust.
The FHL was tapped by the legislature two years ago through House Concurrent Resolution 89 to study the Charity Hospital building, although no dollars were allocated to this directive. FHL raised more than $600,000 in donations, prepared a competitive request for proposals, and hired the world’s seventh largest architectural firm to prepare the study.
Information on the Charity Hospital feasibility study can be viewed at fhl.org. Information on Charity Hospital and the Lower Mid-City neighborhood can be viewed at preservationnation.org.
The House Committee on Appropriations will be meeting Thursday January 22nd to discuss the options concerning the remodeling of the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (Big Charity).
Official Meeting Notice (PDF)
LSU/VA Medical Complex:
IS IT REALLY A DONE DEAL?
Over 70 acres of lower Mid-City cleared.
Over 200 historic buildings demolished.
Over 1,000,000 square feet of downtown buildings abandoned.
Come hear why one of the biggest economic development projects proposed for the city is also one of the most controversial, and learn about the issues, the alternatives, and why this matters to every New Orleans neighborhood.
Wednesday, January 21
Bourbon Orleans Hotel - 717 Orleans St.
6:00-6:30 reception • 6:30-8:00 presentation
Bill Borah, attorney and author
Walter Gallas, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Sandra Stokes, Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Bobbi Rogers, Lower Mid-City Resident
Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
National Trust for Historic Preservation
by Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune 1/9/2009
It was an odd juxtaposition: As volunteers and work crews renovated century-old homes ruined by Hurricane Katrina in the lower Mid-City neighborhood, another crew was walking the same streets alerting property owners that their time in the neighborhood is running out.
Volkert & Associates, a Mobile, Ala., firm, this week began sending...
11:39 PM CST on Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Dennis Woltering / WWLTV Eyewitness News
The coverage continues. Dennis Woltering is the reporter. Dr. James Moises has the last word. Brief shots of Sandra and Steve McDaniel when they were barred from entering in December.
The FHL and RMJM Hillier respond to the Division of Administration Review. The full response is available online in PDF format.
by Jan Moller - Times-Picayune (excerpt)
BATON ROUGE -- The state's efforts to finance a $1.2 billion teaching hospital in downtown New Orleans could be hamstrung by a constitutional cap on debt, which could force the project to be scaled back or reconfigured.
Sandra Stokes, from FHL, and Kevin Krause, from the neighborhood, shot this footage on Thanksgiving Friday. Our Trust colleagues have created these vignettes. Please forward, the message is poignant and urgent.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana
December 4, 2008
The Honorable Jim Fannin, Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Tom McVea, Chairman
Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services
The Honorable Neil Abramson, Bernard LeBas, Rickey Nowlin, Kay Kellogg Katz, Kevin Pearson, Gary Smith, Patrick Williams, Richard Burford, Dorothy Sue Hill, Walker Hines, John Schroder, Scott Simon, Thomas Willmott
I would like to thank you for your graciousness in the aftermath of the Charity Hospital incident on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 when the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the principal architect from RMJM Hillier, along with a physician, were excluded from attending the inspection of the Charity Hospital building in New Orleans by the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. We were obviously surprised and disappointed that we were unable to observe or participate in the committee’s tour of the building. We have accumulated a great deal of information about the building, its condition and its future viability as a re-built medical center. We thank you for your interest and concern regarding this important issue and we await the opportunity to present the findings of the Charity Hospital Feasibility Study in a public hearing before your committee.
We do wish to state what we observed regarding the events which transpired at Charity Hospital. The Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the architects responsible for the independent study for re-use and adaptation of Charity Hospital were invited by state representatives to explain parts of the study on site. We were stopped at the door by Charles Zewe, spokesperson for LSU, saying “I strongly object to you being here.” When asked exactly who was blocking our entry, Mr. Zewe replied “I’m stopping you, on behalf of LSU.” He also said the tour was only for representatives, even though we observed other non-representatives had been allowed entry. We observed that Mr. Jim McNamara, who is not a state representative and is an active advocate for building a new LSU hospital, was allowed through the doors after this encounter. When we asked Mr. Zewe about this discrepancy, Mr. Zewe said Mr. McNamara was an invited guest of LSU. It was very clear to us that LSU was acting as the gatekeeper on who would be permitted into the building.
It is our understanding that the issue regarding state funding of LSU’s plan to abandon the Charity building as a medical center and build a brand new hospital is very much an open question at this point in time. We are aware of LSU’s position that the issue is “closed” and that LSU is planning on proceeding with construction. (In an email dated 12/3/08 to FHL from LSU President Lombardi, Dr. Lombardi stated, “Now that the state has officially selected a site for the new LSU Academic Medical Center, we have moved on to focus on the construction of this hospital.” In a letter from Assistant Commissioner Jerry Jones dated November 26, 2008, Mr. Jones said “As you may be aware, a final decision regarding the location of the replacement facilities for the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans has been made.”). If these statements are true, why would the committee have gone to Charity Hospital to seek information on December 2?
It is our understanding that, despite these statements, the financial issues underlying this project are still very much unresolved. We are especially concerned that the actual cost of this LSU proposed project greatly exceeds what has been publicly stated (1.2 billion dollars). Further, LSU’s refusal to seriously consider the less costly and more expedient alternative of restoring the existing Charity Hospital building has serious consequences both financially and with regard to timely restoration of accessible health care in New Orleans. We look forward to a full and open discussion on this important issue. We are also available to re-visit the Charity Hospital site with the committee should that be helpful in this process.
Of most urgent concern is that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced selection of a site co-located to the proposed new LSU hospital site in New Orleans. We believe the selection of this site by VA was heavily influenced by LSU’s statement of their intention to build the new LSU hospital. If the VA builds on the site selected, and the state does not proceed with LSU’s new hospital, VA will be left isolated from the Medical District.
The issue has been quite controversial since the location of these two hospitals will require the demolition of hundreds of historic buildings, including private homes and businesses, covering 71 acres in Lower Mid City. The State has agreed to carry out the expropriations of these homes and businesses on behalf of the City of New Orleans. Based on the representation that the new LSU hospital is a “done deal”, demolitions of homes will begin soon on the most dense part of the historic neighborhood. The citizens who are facing the loss of their homes and businesses are the same people who were encouraged to come back and rebuild after Katrina. They struggled to reestablish their communities, only to now face losing their homes again – this time to bulldozers. Many of these tax-paying citizens have stated their intention to leave the state altogether if these expropriations go forward.
If, in fact, the best solution is to restore and re-use Charity Hospital as the site for the LSU hospital, the location of the VA hospital needs to be reconsidered and re-configured. There is urgency to this matter, as the VA has announced their intention to proceed. The VA has assured all parties in the Federal Section 106 historic preservation review process that they are committed to building in New Orleans. There are other alternatives that could be a win-win for all.
The vacant Charity Hospital building presents an opportunity which the State has never had before: the complete transformation of an historically significant icon into a world-class medical facility. The building is currently unoccupied. This is a new, extremely rare opportunity that allows the entire building to be gutted. The one million square foot, structurally sound shell could be fitted out into a modern sustainable medical marvel. Such a restoration would send an important message about the progressive stance of the State of Louisiana in creatively integrating new facilities into the fabric of our historic communities and buildings. We would become a nationally recognized leader and model for other communities. Such an outcome would also allow medical care to be made available more quickly and at significantly less cost than the current LSU plan to build an entirely new facility by destroying an historic neighborhood and abandoning the existing Charity building.
LSU could rehabilitate Charity into a 21st century hospital, the VA could build on the much less densely populated LSU site near Claiborne Avenue, creating a medical corridor that is consistent with proper urban design and has synergy with all of the medical facilities. (See Site Plan B). Downtown New Orleans could be revitalized instead of abandoned, and the residential neighborhood could be saved. We would have the same jobs, the same economic opportunities, the same top medical corridor – sooner, at less cost, and with less destruction.
We are very concerned that the exorbitant cost of building an entirely new hospital will result in a cash drain that will mean less money available to attract and keep top-notch medical professionals and researchers. The savings could go into what truly counts in creating a world-class facility. It could be used to attract the best doctors, the best faculty, innovative research, and cutting edge technology. These elements, along with sound leadership, are critical in a world class facility.
We have approached this question from a perspective of common sense and
careful analysis. The findings of our study regarding the feasibility of
the re-use and restoration of the Charity building offer a real alternative
which we believe will be beneficial to the state, its taxpayers, residents,
and medical providers. We are deeply concerned that the proposal now on
the table by LSU is the most expensive, most time-consuming and most destructive
choice. This decision will likely burden the entire state for generations
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana looks forward to the opportunity to appear before your committee on this subject. The RMJM Hillier study is available, along with a short video explanation, on our website at www.fhl.org.
Please contact me if you have any questions at 225-445-3800. I welcome the chance to meet with you to discuss any aspect of this.
Sandra L. Stokes
Executive Vice Chair
cc: Members of the Louisiana Legislature
Executive vice chairwoman of FHL, Sandra Stokes and Steve McDaniel from RMJM Hillier where barred entry to Big Charity. This move appears to violate Louisiana's public meetings law.
Emailed on Nov. 26th, 2008 from Ann Reiley Jones:
The Honorable New Orleans Council:
Once more history is taking a licking. And in a city that has built her trade and commerce on her unique architecture and her extraordinary history.
I ask you to give respect to the Mid-City residents who have rehabilitated their important, historic neighborhoods and to give respect to the patients who will be served by the medical facilities and staff. Both can exist together. Choose another location for the hospital that will not destroy your important historic housing stock and displace hundreds of lower income folks who have gambled on the rescue of their houses.
It's only fair to place the homes of many where the residents will live day after day above the location of what is temporary housing: hospital beds.
Your consideration of my thoughts will be deeply appreciated. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Ann Reiley Jones
Louisiana Preservationist of the Year, 2006
A Times-Picayune article on the Charity Hospital situation by Lolis Eric Elie.
Downtown means several different things in New Orleans geography. Strictly speaking, downtown is on the French Quarter side of Canal Street. Downtown can also mean the old shopping district headquartered along Canal...
Click here to view the full article.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) issued a statement today strongly opposing the announcement of the site selection for the new VA / LSU hospitals in a residential neighborhood of New Orleans.
Today’s announced sites would locate the new Veteran’s Administration Hospital next to a proposed site for the LSU teaching hospital, which is not yet funded with either federal or state dollars--and is estimated to cost $1.2 billion with a six-year or more completion timeline.
Goody Clancy, hired by the city to design the Master Plan recommends rehabilitation of Art Deco Charity Hospital for use by LSU with the VA building placed on the proposed LSU site, which is consistent with good urban design practices.
The location of the VA in the Mid-City residential location will result in the loss of 249 structures, mostly homes, many in the Lower Mid-City historic district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a landmark neighborhood.
FHL based its opposition to the site selections on many important factors, said FHL Executive Director Carolyn Bennett. “A full public discussion of the alternatives is not yet complete; the VA / LSU sites destroy a New Orleans neighborhood that has come back since Hurricane Katrina (many families received grants to rebuild); and it requires costly and stressful eminent domain proceedings. Finally, the plan creates political divisiveness through hurried implementation by the Bush administration without input from President-Elect Obama’s cabinet and his appointees to the Veteran’s Affairs administration who will implement the plan for veterans in the New Orleans areas.”
“There is limited funding for this new proposed hospital,” said Representative Tom McVea, member of the Louisiana Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. "In light of the economic downturn, coupled with the immediate needs for a state-of-the-art hospital, research center, and teaching facility, restoration of Charity Hospital makes the most sense.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Lower Mid-City historic district along with Charity Hospital on its 2008 11 Most Endangered List focusing the national spotlight on this issue. Walter Gallas, of the National Trust staff in New Orleans has stated, “You don’t bring back a great city and its quality of life and services by tearing down residential neighborhoods.”
FHL and the National Trust have urged state and national leaders to look at a compromise which calls for restoring and reopening "Big Charity" Hospital based on a feasibility study by RMJM Hillier, international healthcare and restoration specialists. This plan would have LSU utilize a fully transformed Charity and would locate the new VA on the site now proposed for LSU.
“RMJM Hillier’s comprehensive study demonstrated that renovating and modernizing Charity Hospital would be the most cost effective way of bringing high quality health care to the people of New Orleans in the shortest amount of time possible,” said Steve McDaniel, RMJM Hillier's leader in designing healthcare and research facilities. “The exterior of Charity Hospital can be repaired to modern standards and the interior of the building, now empty for the first time in its history, can be renovated to create a world class hospital. It is the most sustainable solution, reusing important resources, building on existing close connections to the surrounding medical schools, strengthening the urban fabric and avoiding the loss of significant historic resources that make New Orleans a world destination.”
According to Executive Vice Chair Sandra Stokes, FHL point person on Charity Hospital, “There is a win-win situation for all” asking that the VA and the state of Louisiana truly consider rehabilitating Charity Hospital into a state-of- the-art facility, and locating the new VA Hospital on the site nearest Claiborne Avenue. This alternative promises 21st century facilities, the same delivery of healthcare, and assures the same economic benefits – but is faster, less expensive, and certainly less destructive than demolishing 70 acres of homes and businesses. This option would offer faster access to world class medical education, research, economic growth, and advanced health care. It would provide even greater integrated synergy, not only between the VA and LSU, but with Tulane, Delgado, Xavier, the Bio-innovation Center, and the new Cancer Consortium, along with revitalization of downtown so desperately needed by New Orleans," she added. “We should all question ‘Why is this not the choice’? Today’s decision does not make economic – or common sense.”
National Trust President Richard Moe last week wrote U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary James Peake encouraging other alternatives to demolition of the New Orleans Mid-City residential neighborhood. Since Katrina, the Trust has provided fifty million dollars in historic preservation grants to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Stokes added, “We know New Orleans needs prompt return of medical care for veterans and all citizens. We also know that America is watching just how we rebuild not only our medical systems, but our irreplaceable neighborhoods and communities so that they are true to the uniqueness of New Orleans. It is vital that we make the best decisions that address all of these issues.”
The FHL said in its statement today that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs newly announced location is premature because LSU may not in fact be able to put a $1.2 billion funding package on the table considering the current economic conditions of the country and the state. “Every community and city has seen speculative demolitions that “scorched the earth” and wiped out buildings only to have “promised” funding fall through,” said Bennett.
The FHL-RMJM Hillier Charity feasibility study, mandated by 2006 Legislative Resolution #89 can be reviewed here. For more information, contact Bennett at (225) 387-2464 or Stokes at (225) 445-3800.
As requested by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, below are the responses to questions from Mark A. Moses, P.E., Senior Manager, State of Louisiana, Facility Planning and Control from an email dated November 13, 2008.
Click here to view the response in PDF format.
Honorable James B. Peake, M.D.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20420
Dear Secretary Peake:
The Veteran Administration decision on location in New Orleans is a controversial one. There is sentiment that the choice of the RPC site was a “done deal” – and the decision was predetermined all along.
Besides the demolition and destruction of homes and entire historic district, our concern is that the VA is making decisions based on co-location with LSU, who does not have the financing. We have spoken with many parties at the state level who assure us that the money is not secured for this project. Many high state officials believe it simply will not happen. Even President Lombardi said the state will not be funding this and that it is just a “charming discussion” at this point. When we spoke with Don Orndoff about this, he said he believes the state will come through.
Presently, no one even knows the true total cost of the project and how much the state will need to finance. How can Louisiana commit to this money when they don’t even know the amount?
What happens if the VA demolishes the more populated historic residential district and builds on the far side, only to then confirm that LSU doesn’t have the funding to co-locate? VA, whose controversial decision is based on the supposed synergy, will be left isolated out in “left field’ with a scarred presence in New Orleans. Knowing all of this, it seems imprudent for the VA to move ahead on choosing the RPC site.
There are alternatives that could provide a win-win for all. The Lindy Boggs site is “ready to go” with a willing seller and land to expand. The neighborhood will welcome it with open arms – and surrounding amenities exist including restaurants, grocery, library, planned bike paths, and a park like setting nearby.
Another alternative that addresses synergy with ALL the surrounding medical complexes is attached. Site Plan (B) allows for the a more truly integrated synergistic medical campus and connections to LSU Medical School, Tulane School of Medicine, a rehabilitated Charity Hospital, the Delgado School of Nursing, the new Bio-Innovation Center, and the Cancer Consortium. Since VA has its money and is ready to proceed, we encourage you to build on the optimum piece of property closest to Claiborne Avenue; the proposed LSU site.
The 21st century, state-of-the-art rehabilitation of the Charity Hospital building is a key element of the RMJM Hillier plan. The positive impacts of this plan to the surrounding community include the preservation of historic neighborhoods, revitalization of downtown New Orleans, rebirth of the historic medical campus and the preservation of a cultural icon. Adoption of this plan would avoid the use of eminent domain against homeowners and small business owners in the most populated areas of the historic Lower Mid City neighborhood of New Orleans and saves the significant historic buildings in question.
The RMJM Hillier plan offers an efficient, modern healthcare delivery system in much less time and for significantly less expense than what is proposed by the LSU Strategic Master Plan, resulting in less burden on the taxpayer and the State. Time is money. This solution will result in the faster return of a Level One trauma center and full teaching hospital to New Orleans and therefore a faster attraction of the best medical students, investment dollars, jobs, support businesses, research, research dollars, the bioscience corridor, and of course, synergy.
The re-building of Charity Hospital and the VA at the heart of the historic medical district in New Orleans could be a symbol of the rebirth and revitalization of New Orleans and the entire downtown district, in contrast to the more expensive and prolonged plan which is premised upon destruction and controversy. This re-vitalization plan makes both common and economic sense.
We request a meeting as soon as possible to present the findings of the RMJM Hillier Feasibility Study on Charity Hospital and alternatives for the VA Hospital that would be more agreeable. We also ask that the VA not make a decision until LSU has its finances secured.
Thank you in advance for consideration of this important issue. We look forward to meeting with you soon.
Executive Vice Chair
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Recently you received the Foundation for Historical Louisiana / RMJM Hillier’s response to the October 24, 2008 letter from Angele Davis, Commissioner of Administration, commenting on the recent independent assessment of Charity Hospital. This Feasibility Study was performed by the internationally renowned architectural firm of RMJM Hillier and commissioned by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana in response to House Concurrent Resolution 89 of the 2006 Legislative Session.
The RMJM Hillier Feasibility Study incorporates the same healthcare delivery systems as those proposed in the LSU Strategic Master Plan, while providing a more integrated synergistic medical campus and superior connections to LSU Medical School, Tulane School of Medicine, the Delgado School of Nursing, the new BioInnovation Center, and the Cancer Consortium. The 21st century, state-of-the-art rehabilitation of the Charity Hospital building is a key element of the RMJM Hillier plan. The positive impacts of this plan to the surrounding community include the preservation of historic neighborhoods, revitalization of downtown New Orleans, rebirth of the historic medical campus and the preservation of a cultural icon. Adoption of this plan would avoid the use of eminent domain against homeowners and small business owners in the historic Lower Mid City neighborhood of New Orleans, whose property is targeted for expropriation and demolition by the proposed new hospital.
The RMJM Hillier plan offers an efficient, modern healthcare delivery system in much less time and for significantly less expense than what is proposed by the LSU Strategic Master Plan, resulting in less burden on the taxpayer and the State. Time is money. Implementing this plan, Charity Hospital could begin to generate revenue in 3 years from beginning of construction instead of continuing to supplement the interim medical facilities for many additional years. This solution will result in the faster return of a Level One trauma center and full teaching hospital to New Orleans and therefore a faster attraction of the best medical students, investment dollars, jobs, support businesses, research, and research dollars.
The re-building of Charity Hospital at the heart of the historic medical
district in New Orleans could be a symbol of the rebirth and revitalization
of New Orleans and the entire downtown district, in contrast to the more
expensive and prolonged plan which is premised upon destruction and controversy.
This re-vitalization plan makes both common and economic sense.
Thanks you in advance for consideration of this important issue. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your comments and recommendations.
Executive Vice Chair
RMJM Hillier response to the State Division of Administration. This letter is in response to the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) request that RMJM Hiller assist FHL in responding to comments regarding the Medical Center of New Orleans - Charity Hospital Feasibility Study (available at www.fhl.org and hereafter referred to as “Feasibility Study”) provided by the State of Louisiana Commissioner of Administration in a letter dated October 24, 2008. A copy of the letter was received by RMJM Hillier via facsimile on October 27, 2008.
Click here to view the response in PDF format.
RMJM Hillier made the following findings in a recent report on Charity
A new study shows that despite the ravages of Katrina it would be cheaper and quicker to gut and rebuild Big Charity rather than build a fancy new hospital in New Orleans.
Click here to view the full article by the Daily World
Senator David Vitter urges Governor Bobby Jindal to consider the findings from RJMJ the architectural firm that conducted the assessment of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Vitter highlights the renovations to Charity comes with a smaller price tag for Louisiana tax payers and faster completion date.
Click here to view a PDF of the official letter sent.
A comprehensive architectural assessment of the Medical Center of New Orleans was released today by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) demonstrating that “Big Charity” can be rehabilitated as a state-of-the art medical facility according to RMJM Hillier, the architectural firm that conducted the assessment.
The FHL was charged by the Legislature in House Concurrent Resolution 89 to “examine and evaluate the entire Big Charity structure to determine the advisability of repairing or restructuring the entire facility.”
“Our assessment shows that there are no fundamental flaws that would impede the rehabilitation of Charity Hospital into a state-of-the-art modern facility,” said Dr. George C. Skarmeas, founding principal of RMJM Hillier’s Preservation Architecture Practice Group. “Big Charity is one of the premier examples of Art Deco architecture in New Orleans and its rehabilitation would provide the most sustainable way to create a contemporary hospital while preserving a key part of the city’s history. The re-use of this iconic historic landmark would be a symbol of New Orleans’ rebirth.”
“Charity Hospital has the potential to be a very good healthcare facility in its design, floor space and close connection to a community with serious healthcare needs,” said Steve McDaniel, RMJM Hillier’s leader in designing healthcare and research facilities. “Renovating and modernizing Charity Hospital will take much less time and will be significantly less expensive than building a new hospital. Big Charity’s current vacant state allows for an easier upgrade to a modern state-of-the-art facility including a new main entrance lobby on Tulane Avenue, a Level 1 trauma center and new patient-centered environment.”
“We know there are rumors about the condition and status of Charity Hospital since its closing after the storm. This assessment provides much-needed facts and an in-depth analysis with supporting data to clearly demonstrate the facility’s viability for transformation into an ultra-modern medical facility, in the fastest and most cost effective manner,” said Sandra Stokes, vice chair of the FHL Board of Directors. “The rebuilt charity Hospital would be completed two years earlier than a new hospital, saving million in financing costs, the expense of running an interim hospital and loss in revenue that would result from the extra time needed for a new facility.”
According to the assessment, the building envelope, including exterior walls, windows, and roof, can be effectively restored. The structural system is extremely sound, and with a few modifications, it will be fully functional as a state-of-the-art healthcare facility. Having this useful and structurally sound building shell already in place should save at least 2 years off the delivery date of a new building, which would require acquiring a very large parcel of land, relocating the people who live there, and building from scratch a brand new building. Charity’s vacant state allows easier upgrade to state-of-the-art facility and the re-use of existing buildings is a sustainable way to build.
The building footprint, with its H-shape, complies with modern hospital design goals of enhancing day lighting and providing views from all rooms. The existing floor plates are workable for a first class healthcare facility, except for the 3rd floor, which RMJM Hillier proposes enlarging, the report states.
The assessment calls for the removal of all interior partitions, ceilings, and finishes to ensure that no environmental concerns remain and seeks a new interior fit-out of the entire building as well as an innovative entrance atrium. The recommended design will meet the latest code requirement for hurricane-force winds.
Beyond the construction cost savings of at least twenty percent, the report also states that there would be significant savings in time of construction required for Charity, as compared to a new facility. Having this useful and structurally sound building shell already in place should save at least two years off the delivery date of a new building, which would require acquiring a large parcel of land, relocating people, and constructing a new building.
Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said that the National Trust named Charity Hospital and the adjacent Mid-City neighborhood to its 2008 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places because both the building and its surrounding neighborhood contribute to New Orleans' unique architectural landscape. "This report confirms what we've long believed: Charity Hospital is a viable candidate for rehabilitation and reuse. By rehabbing Charity and preserving the 25 blocks of historic houses around it, New Orleans can get two things it desperately needs: top-quality medical facilities and livable in-town neighborhoods."
“Historic preservation and 21st Century healthcare are not mutually exclusive. This report demonstrates that New Orleans can be a leader in both,” according to Walter Gallas, director of the National Trust’s New Orleans Field Office.
Charity Hospital was closed by the LSU Health Sciences Center in September 2005 after Katrina. In 2006, the Louisiana Legislature asked for the independent assessment in House Resolution #89. RMJM Hillier was retained by FHL to complete the assessment.
According to FHL Executive Director Carolyn Bennett, “The Foundation for Historical Louisiana was named by the state Legislature to spearhead an independent study of Big Charity and our Board of Directors took this charge very seriously. RMJM Hillier's in-depth assessment now opens the way for fact based discussions on the quickest and most cost-efficient way to restore healthcare to New Orleans. FHL urges our elected officials and health care leaders to carefully examine the assessment and use this Art Deco landmark of medical, cultural, and historic importance as the magnificent starting point of a first-class facility for the citizens of Louisiana."
The 1938 Art Deco Charity Hospital structure was originally designed by the firm of Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth. This same group created the Louisiana State Capitol, the Old Governor’s Mansion, the LSU French House, the Eola Hotel of Natchez, and the Shushan Lakefront Airport in New Orleans.
RMJM Hillier has extensive experience in both modern healthcare facility design and assessment and rehabilitation of historical buildings. Recent modernization projects include the U. S. Supreme Court, the Virginia State Capitol, and the St. Louis Public Library. The firm also has a superb record in building state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, laboratories and academic research facilities including the University Medical Center at Princeton, Duke University’s Global Health Research Building, Louisiana Cancer Research Center and University of South Alabama Cancer Center.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s mission is to preserve the architectural and cultural heritage of Louisiana. The organization dates back to 1963 and it is a local partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Foundation headquarters is located in the Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge (also a Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth building), which it operates in a cooperative endeavor agreement with the State of Louisiana.
An executive summary of the assessment and the report can be viewed at fhl.org and at rmjmpress.com.
For More Information Call:
FHL Vice Chair Sandra Stokes 225-445-3800
FHL Executive Director Carolyn Bennett 225-931-7561;
Virgil McDill National Trust for Historic Preservation, 202-294-9187
Walter Gallas, National Trust New Orleans Field Office 504-400-3017
Neill Coleman, RMJM Hillier, 646-244-1814
Images available via Neill Coleman at RMJM Hillier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 3rd, 2008 - Direct Link to
A year ago, USA Today told its readers about a feisty Mid-City resident named Bobbi Rogers. Back then, Ms. Rogers was excited about getting started on the renovation of her flood-damaged house. Today, she's dismayed because her home, now beautifully refurbished, is threatened with demolition.
The threat to Ms. Rogers' home -- and many other structures in her neighborhood -- arises from a plan to build a new Veterans Administration medical facility and a 424-bed teaching hospital to replace Charity Hospital, which has been shuttered and moldering since Hurricane Katrina. The plan, which was recently given the go-ahead by Gov. Bobby Jindal and Secretary Alan Levine of the Department of Health and Hospitals, would destroy 150-200 homes and businesses.
In other words, people who saw their homes swamped by rising floodwaters could now see them flattened by roaring bulldozers.
The seriousness of the threat led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to include Charity Hospital and the adjacent historic neighborhood on its 2008 list of America 's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The listing spotlights our alarm over the possible loss of "Big Charity," which is New Orleans ' premiere example of Art Deco design, and a major part of the Mid-City Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It also reflects our concern that plans for constructing the new medical facilities are being pushed too fast, before all the facts are in.
As mandated by a resolution of the state Legislature in 2006, an assessment of the Charity Hospital building is currently being carried out under the direction of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana; the final report on the structural condition of this important landmark is expected to be released by mid-August. The information in this report should be a major factor in -- not an afterthought to -- any decision about the need to construct new hospitals.
Similarly, the destruction of part of the historic Mid-City neighborhood and the displacement of its residents should not be contemplated until there has been a full and open discussion of the reasoning behind a decision that will impact hundreds of families. Up to now, most New Orleanians -- including the owners of property within the proposed footprint of the new hospitals -- have learned about the project primarily through the media. That's wrong. When residents are facing the threat of removal from their neighborhood, they shouldn't be expected to comply meekly, with no explanation of why they are being uprooted.
The National Trust urges the New Orleans City Council, the city's Office of Recovery and Development Administration, the Regional Planning Commission, LSU and the VA to open up the process. When site selection and facility design proceed in a manner that is contrary to established guidelines for historic preservation and environmental reviews the public is understandably left with the impression that federal, state and local agencies are merely going through the motions of compliance.
We all deserve better than this. Specifically, we deserve meaningful discussion of alternative sites within New Orleans, a rationale for the choice of the Mid-City location and a discussion of the extraordinary size of the proposed footprint.
No one disputes that New Orleans needs top-quality, 21st-century facilities for health care, medical education and research. But meeting this need doesn't have to involve the needless sacrifice of a historic neighborhood whose residents have already demonstrated their determination to put Katrina behind them and rebuild their lives in the area they love. If the new medical facilities are truly needed, there are viable alternative sites for them -- sites that won't force people to choose between shiny hospitals and familiar homes.
. . . . . . .
Richard Moe is president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Sent May 29, 2008
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, pursuant to its charge in HCR 89, has recently hired the firm of RMJM Hillier to do an independent assessment of Big Charity Hospital. RMJM Hillier is an internationally renowned architectural firm that specializes in both preservation and state of the art healthcare design. Due to be completed by August 21, this in-depth evaluation will be the first study to determine the structural integrity of this building and the possibilities of restoring and renovating Charity to a first rate medical facility.
Charity Hospital has been a part of Louisiana’s architectural, cultural
and medical heritage for 272 years. Last week the National Trust for Historic
Preservation listed the hospital and its adjacent neighborhood as one of
America’s 11 most treasured and endangered sites. Since its closing
there have been several assessments of the hospital, but only to determine
the monetary amount of damages to be reimbursed by FEMA. There has been
no study to determine the viability and reuse potential of this monumental
landmark. That is until now.
The Foundation has worked diligently to fulfill the charge unanimously passed by the 2006 Legislature in House Concurrent Resolution 89. HCR 89 provided no appropriation, thus the study is being funded by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and donors. We are proud to have been chosen to lead this fact finding mission to provide the first independent assessment of the building and to determine its viability for any future medical use. With the cooperation of the State Office of Facility Planning and LSU, RMJM Hillier has begun this critical evaluation to gather the full data.
We ask that all decisions concerning Charity Hospital and/or a proposed new hospital, which will demolish over 25 blocks of historic homes and businesses in a National Register of Historic Places neighborhood, be put on hold until we have the results from this assessment of a Louisiana icon. Our findings will be issued to the full Legislature, LSU Board of Supervisors, State Office of Facility Planning, and Louisiana Recovery Authority by August 21, 2008.
Sandra L. Stokes
Executive Vice Chair
This letter was sent to the following recipients:
Governor Bobby Jindal
Mr. Jay Dardenne, Secretary of State
Mr. John Kennedy, State Treasurer
Honorable Joel T. Chaisson, President of the Senate
Honorable Jim Tucker, Speaker of the House
Members of the Louisiana State Senate
Members of the Louisiana State House of Representatives
Ms. Angele Davis, Commissioner of Administration
Mr. Jerry Shea Jr. Chairman, LSU Board of Supervisors
Mr. John Lombardi, President, Louisiana State University
Dr. Fred Cerise, Vice-President, LSU Health Care Service Division
Mr. Jerry Jones, Director, Facility Planning & Control
Mr. Alfred W. Spears, Clerk of the House
Mr. Paul Rainwater, Executive Director, Louisiana Recovery Authority
Mr. Mark Moses, Senior Manager, Facility Planning & Control
Mr. Kenneth Odinet, State Representative Emeritus
Mr. Jim Howell, University Architect, LSU
Mr. Walter Gallas, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Ms. Carolyn Bennett, FHL Executive Director
Mr. Alan Levine, Secretary, Department of Health and Hospitals
Ms. Sybil Richard, Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Hospitals
Mr. Rony Francois, Assistant Secretary, Office of Public Health
Kristi Nichols, Health Policy Advisor to the Governor
STATEMENT FROM NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION PRESIDENT RICHARD
MOE ON JINDAL ADMINISTRATION'S PLAN FOR NEW DOWNTOWN HOSPITAL
This is precisely the wrong message to send to homeowners who have demonstrated their determination to return home and rebuild in New Orleans' unique historic neighborhoods.
Last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Charity Hospital and the adjacent historic Mid-City neighborhood on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. While the National Trust agrees that New Orleans needs and deserves 21st century facilities for health care, medical research, and medical education, we cannot condone sacrificing intact portions of a historic city neighborhood.
A structural building assessment of the Charity Hospital building is proceeding under the direction of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, as charged by a resolution of the State Legislature in 2006. By mid-August, RMJM Hillier of Philadelphia will release its final report on the structural condition of this important landmark. The National Trust urges Governor Jindal and Secretary Levine to include the information from this professional team in its planning for New Orleans' health care.
Viable alternative sites exist in New Orleans—alternatives which could lessen the impacts on historic properties and still deliver on the promise of excellence in health care facilities. The National Trust for Historic Preservation will continue to work to ensure that these alternatives receive the full consideration that they deserve.
National Trust for Historic Preservation
It is heartbreaking to report that our own Charity Hospital building is endangered unless we do something right now. Your help is urgently needed today.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana is working relentlessly to save this historical icon of Louisiana’s architectural, cultural and medical heritage.
With the authority of House Concurrent Resolution 89 passed by the 2006 Louisiana legislature, the Foundation has hired an internationally renowned architectural firm to do an independent assessment of Big Charity to determine if it can be restored. This is the only study to determine if the building is a viable structure for future use. Previous studies have only been to determine the amount of funding that might be reimbursed through FEMA. The Louisiana legislature is to receive a report by August 21, 2008.
The resolution did not appropriate any money for the evaluation; therefore the Foundation is seeking private funding for this assessment. Without a professional study a truly informed decision can not be made about the future of the building. Decisions about its future must be evidence-based.
Please consider donating to the Foundation’s “Charity Hospital Fund” to help save this building. In addition to abandoning Charity Hospital and the former VA facilities, plans for new construction call for the demolition of 200 buildings constructed prior to 1880 in 25 blocks of an adjacent National Register Historic District, despite the existence of a largely vacant site nearby.
Any donation is gratefully accepted and will help us preserve this Louisiana landmark. You will also receive one of our “SAVE CHARITY HOSPITAL” decals along with a donation receipt for tax purposes.
Also, please contact your legislators. Use the links on our website tosend an email to Governor Bobby Jindal and Secretary of Health and Hospitals Alan Levine, asking them to incorporate the facts from this assessment in the decisions made about the future of Charity Hospital.
If you have questions, please email the Foundation for Historical Louisiana at email@example.com and continue to visit our website for updates.
We need your help. Thank you in advance for your support.
Sandra L. Stokes
Executive Vice Chair
Foundation for Historical Louisiana
Katrina-Battered Hospital Seeks Life Support
Washington, D.C. (May 20, 2008) – Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Charity Hospital and the adjacent neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, to its 2008 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The annual list highlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk for destruction or irreparable damage.
Once a prestigious center of medical training and a beacon for public health care, Charity Hospital now faces an uncertain future. Surrounded by flood waters when Hurricane Katrina shattered the levees around New Orleans, the Art Deco icon has been shuttered and vacant for nearly three years. Despite its legendary role in serving hundreds of thousands of uninsured patients and the critical need for medical facilities in New Orleans, this historic building continues to languish and remains vulnerable to demolition.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the basement of Charity Hospital suffered water damage and some of the electrical and mechanical systems were damaged or destroyed. After the water receded, the medical community, the military and a number of volunteers pumped out the flooded basement, cleaned up the debris, and restored electrical power to make the building usable again, but the doors to the hospital were permanently locked when the building was deemed unsafe and unusable by the Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical System.
At present, LSU is moving forward with plans for a new medical complex alongside a new facility for the Veterans Administration (VA). In addition to abandoning Charity Hospital and the former VA facilities, the plans for new construction call for the demolition of some 200 homes and buildings constructed prior to 1880 in 25 blocks of an adjacent National Register Historic District, despite the existence of a largely vacant site nearby. In addition to providing homes for hundreds of people, the Mid-City neighborhood is also the location of several significant, historically important buildings, such as Deutsches Haus, a German social organization from the 1920s, and McDonogh No. 11 School, which dates to 1879.
Today, preservation groups are rallying to save Charity Hospital and protect it from deteriorating beyond repair. Beginning with an intervention grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, in fulfilling its charge from the State Legislature, is continuing to raise funds for an independent assessment of the building. The Foundation has hired RMJM Hillier of Philadelphia to assess the building’s overall structural condition and its potential reuse for medical services. Grassroots organizations are also leading the charge in raising awareness on both a national and local level and galvanizing efforts to determine viable alternatives for the facility.
“The reuse potential as well as the architectural and cultural significance of Charity Hospital should not be ignored in the process of determining the fate of this historic treasure,” says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We cannot afford to stand idly by and allow the loss of such a valuable and architecturally significant building, along with the destruction of a large portion of the nearby historic neighborhood.”
Charity Hospital is the premier example of Art Deco architecture in New Orleans and carries with it a historic legacy that reaches back more than 250 years. Classically designed with streamline elements, the H-shaped building was designed by the firm of Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth, which also designed the Art Deco State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Founded in 1735 to serve the indigent, Charity’s social impact derived from its commitment to progressive health care for the poor. In addition to being the second oldest continuing public hospital in the United States, Charity was the second largest hospital in the nation until it was closed in September 2005.
Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia, Pa. - Philadelphia’s last surviving downtown movie palace—a masterpiece of Art Deco design—faces an uncertain future as it sits vacant and remains vulnerable to demolition. It awaits a preservation-minded buyer to return the vintage venue to its original grandeur.
California’s State Parks - California’s state park system, the largest park system in the U.S., encompasses a vast array of historic and cultural resources that chronicle the state’s rich and storied heritage. It also has suffered greatly from years of chronic underfunding and has $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance. Proposed budget cuts, which would have led to the closure of 48 state parks, have been staved off. The underlying problem remains. Current funds only cover 40% of actual maintenance and operations needs, which means irreplaceable historic and cultural resources remain endangered.
Charity Hospital and the adjacent neighborhood, New Orleans, La. – While Charity Hospital sits abandoned, plans call for the demolition of nearly 200 homes in the adjacent Mid-City neighborhood to accommodate construction of two new hospitals. Alternate locations for the new hospitals are available, and Charity Hospital, a National Register-eligible building that closed after Hurricane Katrina, could be rehabilitated to once again serve the community.
Great Falls Portage, Great Falls, Mont. – This National Historic Landmark, one of the best preserved landscapes along the Lewis and Clark Trail, is slated to get a massive coal-fired power plant in its front yard. Development abutting the Great Falls Portage, an undeveloped rural area under panoramic blue Montana skies, will irreparably harm the cultural and visual landscape.
Hangar One, Moffett Field, Santa Clara County, Calif. – The hangar, a local icon built in 1932 to house U.S. Navy dirigibles, is a cavernous, 200 foot tall dome-shaped structure covering more than 8 acres of land. A 2003 inspection revealed PCBs leaking from the hangar’s metallic exterior. Although the Navy transferred Hangar One to NASA in 1992, the Navy is responsible for environmental remediation, but has no mandate to replace the exterior and preserve the building.
The Lower East Side, New York City - The Lower East Side embodies the history of immigration, one of the central themes of American history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, yet development threatens to erase the surviving historic structures. This includes houses of worship, historic theaters, schools and the tenement, a unique architectural type which, by the sheer numbers who lived in such a building, had an impact on more Americans than any other form of urban housing. A New York City landmark designation and contextual zone changes within the neighborhood would preserve the physical character of the neighborhood.
Michigan Avenue Streetwall, Chicago, Ill. - This 12-block stretch of historic buildings—dating back to the 1880s—is a virtual encyclopedia of the work of the city’s best architects, including Daniel Burnham and Louis Sullivan. Although this “streetwall” was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002, its historic character is now being threatened by the inappropriate addition of large-scale towers that retain only small portions of the original buildings or their facades.
Peace Bridge Neighborhood, Buffalo, N.Y. - The neighborhood and the site, with homes and buildings dating to the 1850s on two National Register Olmsted parks, is an iconic section of the City of Buffalo. The Public Bridge Authority (PBA) proposes to expand Peace Bridge and include a 45 acre plaza that will eliminate over 100 homes and businesses (dozens of which are eligible to the National Register) and diminish the Olmsted parks. Suitable alternate sites exist, but PBA refuses to properly consider them.
The Statler Hilton Hotel, Dallas, Texas - When the Statler Hilton opened in downtown Dallas in 1956, it was hailed as the most modern hotel in the country. Today, the building sits vacant. Located on an increasingly attractive piece of real estate, the Statler Hilton faces an uncertain future as encroaching development pressure heightens the threat of demolition. Current regulations restrict alternate uses, so a sympathetic developer is needed to restore and reopen the Statler as a hotel.
Sumner Elementary School, Topeka, Kan. - The school, a National Historic Landmark, helped launch the nation’s Civil Rights Movement as the centerpiece of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Currently vacant, the school suffers from deferred maintenance and has sustained significant damage from water infiltration and vandalism. Though the city of Topeka owns the school and is required to maintain and protect it, the City Council has authorized its demolition. A sympathetic developer is needed to save and restore this icon.
Vizcaya and the Bonnet House, Fla. -Pending development of out-of-scale buildings and corresponding zoning changes will permanently ruin the vistas surrounding Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (Miami) and Bonnet House Museum & Gardens (Ft. Lauderdale) and threatens to set a precedent for future high-rise structures.
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified 200 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. While a listing does not ensure the protection of a site or guarantee funding, the designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. At times, that attention has garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark; while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our history.
To download high resolution images of this year’s 11 Most
Endangered Historic Places, please visit http://press.nationaltrust.org
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history – and the important moments of everyday life – took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability. With headquarters in Washington, DC, 9 regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America’s stories. For more information, visit www.PreservationNation.org.
My name is Walter Gallas. I am the director of the New Orleans Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Welcome to residents and friends, area business owners, and representatives of neighborhood institutions.
Today in New York City, even as we meet here, the president of the National Trust, Richard Moe, is announcing America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. We are here to place “Charity Hospital and the Adjacent Neighborhood” on the Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List for 2008.
Since 1988, the National Trust has been identifying threatened historic places in this manner to spur a national discussion about why these places matter and why they deserve protection. Over the years, some 200 historic places have been listed. While listing doesn’t guarantee total protection, it has at times spurred rethinking of plans, raised awareness and funding, or galvanized a community to succeed in saving an important place in history.
The Trust organization doesn’t arrive at its decision without considerable internal discussion and careful examination of the situation.
Here in New Orleans, we found the opportunity to deliver two main messages: 1) that the future of the Charity Hospital building looks bleak unless we all support serious efforts to independently evaluate its structural condition and its potential for continued medical uses; and 2) that the future of the residents and business owners in the 25 blocks of this Mid-City neighborhood where we are today looks equally bleak if planning for new LSU and VA hospitals is based on wholesale demolition of sections of the Mid-City National Register District, tossing aside historic buildings to clear the way for a development which will sprawl across over 70 acres.
We are going to hear from a few individuals who are intimately tied in with both of these issues.
At this time, I’d like to introduce Sandra Stokes, executive vice chair of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.
The Foundation for Historical Louisiana is so pleased to have Charity Hospital and the surrounding neighborhood named to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered list. To say it is an honor is a paradox. It just means we are in the most danger of losing these important buildings.
Many in New Orleans and throughout the world have a history and connection with Charity. In the 275 year legacy of the Charity Hospital System, millions of patients have been treated. Thousands of the best doctors and nurses throughout the United States have trained in her halls. It is an icon that belongs to New Orleans – a Nationally known landmark – and a proud part of our Architectural, Cultural and Medical Heritage.
In 2006, the LA Legislature passed a resolution charging the Foundation for Historical LA to do an independent assessment of the Hospital. The Foundation has been working diligently to fulfill this obligation.
This resolution, HCR 89, asks the Foundation to not only assess the building structurally, but also for medical use. There have been assessments commissioned before this, but they have been only to determine the monetary amount of damages caused by Katrina - to be reimbursed by FEMA.
This is the first independent assessment of the building to determine its viability.
After a careful selection process, the Foundation for Historical LA has hired the international renowned architectural firm of RMJM Hillier, who specializes in both Preservation and State of the Art Healthcare design.
This much needed assessment will gather the facts. From this, we can determine exactly what is the potential for the future of this landmark. 12 weeks after gaining access to the building, we will have reports that will say exactly what it will take to get this building back into service.
New Orleans and Louisiana are so fortunate to have the National Trust’s spotlight and recognition on Big Charity Hospital. We know that with their help and national attention, focus can be brought to our efforts to preserve this monumental icon and the surrounding neighborhood.
Good morning. I’m Carolyn Bennett, Executive Director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.
The Foundation is a local partners of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Foundation nominated Big Charity to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List. Projects like this do not happen without volunteers and I want to acknowledge Todd Callendar who worked on this voluminous and highly competitive application.
Charity Hospital is a monumental landmark designed by a renowned firm that also built the Louisiana State Capitol, the 1930 Old Governor’s Mansion, the LSU French House. Charity Hospital is eminently eligible for the National Register of Historic Places with the U. S. Department of the Interior.
In September 2005 the Foundation began speaking out on behalf of Charity Hospital. It was a natural. Our mission is to preserve the architectural and cultural heritage of Louisiana. I can tell you that this is the biggest building the Foundation has ever tried to save.
Big Charity is one million square feet.
We all recycle. Recycling is a way of life for all of us. Recycling our historic buildings is the smartest step we can take.
Think of the embodied energy and history in this one million square foot structure and the 200 houses in this adjacent neighborhood that are threatened.
The greenest buildings are the ones already standing. Like this one behind us.
The Foundation says--Reuse, Reinvest in, Retrofit, and Respect the historic integrity of America’s older building stock.
You can’t build back a great city like New Orleans by tearing down all its vintage homes and landmarks, like this neighborhood and Charity Hospital.
This listing of Charity Hospital and its adjacent neighborhoods is more that saving a landmark, it can mean saving lives
“Charity” does begin at home. Save Big Charity and the 200 homes in this neighborhood. Thank you.
Note: To donate to the dedicated fund for the assessment of Charity Hospital, please contact Carolyn Bennett at the The Foundation for Historical Louisiana, 225-387-2464. Donations are fully tax-deductible.
In 2004, the National Trust named Chicago’s Cook County Hospital to its 11 Most Endangered List. The Cook County Board had voted the year before to demolish it. In August 2007, the board presented plans for the renovation and re-use of the building to support the medical community. The building was known as the Statue of Liberty of hospitals for its treatment of all patients, rich and poor. It was built in 1914.
Today the National Trust for Historic Preservation calls on citizens to contact Governor Bobby Jindal; Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine; the LSU Board of Supervisors; Dr. Fred Cerise, Vice President of the LSU Health Care Service Division; Julie Catellier, Director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System; Mayor Nagin; and the New Orleans City Council.
Residents and business owners in this neighborhood heeded the mayor’s call to come home and rebuild. Today, a moratorium on building permits has halted their work, sending a message that this community is not important.
Let today’s national attention on “Charity Hospital and the Adjacent Neighborhood” as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places change that message.
We welcome your questions of our speakers and also invite you to talk to a number of residents and business owners.