A few weeks ago I posted about a big demolition project which had begun just a block from our house, and how they tried to stop me from taking pictures.
Thought I’d post a follow-up.
The site, on the 3100 block of Canal Street (downtown side), is the Physicians Hospital complex, which old-timers know as Montelepre.
In just two days they’d torn down three historic wood-frame houses. A few days after that they’d torn down two more. In less than two weeks they’d cleared away most of the debris. That entire block is now devoid of buildings, except for one house that is owned by someone else, and the big four-story concrete building. They say they’re taking that down too. So far they’ve left the trees standing, which surprised me.
Throughout the demolition process, the vibrations have caused our house to shake, like there’s a minor earthquake. Dishes rattling, that sort of thing. I wonder what it will be like when they take the larger building down. Will they use explosives, or just a big wrecking ball?
I’ve posted a set of photos which will expand as the demolition continues. A snippet of the demolition may also be seen in our Six Months Post-Katrina video. I also posted about this on the MCNO website, where I got into some detail regarding ownership and permits. Short of the long: No clue what will be built there next. The current owner is just looking to sell the land. So it could be almost anything, but presumably it will stay commercial.
Demolishing buildings in New Orleans has gotten a whole lot easier post-Katrina. If a building was estimated by the city to be more than 50% damaged, demolition permits are granted without question. Problem is, I know one guy who had just three inches of water in his house; it was assessed at 52% damage, which is absurd. Also, it’s very easy to persuade City Hall to change their estimate if you’re so inclined.
What this means is that a lot of buildings which need to be torn down can be, without cumbersome restrictions. But it also means that we may lose many historic buildings which could be preserved.