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Slated for Demolition

As Ashley noted, Victory got their permit to demolish the Lindy Boggs hospital (formerly known as Mercy).

This was decided by the Housing Conservation District Review Committee at a meeting that took place on the last day of the year, December 31st. Alan was there and provides a comprehensive account of just how dysfunctional the meeting revealed HCDRC to be. The indefatigable Matt McBride has also been circulating an analysis of what’s wrong with HCDRC. If you really want to get your blood boiling, read this letter from a homeowner who was subject to an erroneous demolition.

Much of the focus in these writings is on the demolition of homes — a worthy subject to be sure. But I’d like to focus on what went down with regard to Victory and the old hospital, since I’ve written about this several times recently.

Here’s an update from Jennifer Weishaupt, VP of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, which details that aspect of the HCDRC meeting and also a preliminary meeting.

On Friday Dec 28th, three representatives of MCNO were joined by the President of Faubourg St John Neighborhood Ass’n and a representative of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, in a meeting with Richard Cortizas and Bill Hines – lawyers with Jones Walker representing Victory.

At that time we were informed that Victory has no redevelopment plans for Lindy Boggs site for the near future (2-3 years). This was attributed to the downturn in the housing, retail and credit markets over the past year. Development sooner than that time would only happen if there are changes in the economy.

The following details of the demolition plans were presented:

  • Demolition would begin in approximately 2 months and would last about 5 months.
  • Method of demolition is by heavy equipment.
  • Demolition would take place Monday – Friday from about 7am – 5pm
  • They are willing to agree to truck routes
  • They have been working with the Louisiana Dept of Environmental Quality to address concerns about any materials in the building that might pose a threat to human health and/or the environment.

Following the meeting, the MCNO, FSJNA and FOLC representatives discussed options. At that time we agreed that continuing to take an adversarial position was not beneficial. This is mainly due to the fact that the HCDRC was very likely (>95%) to approve the demolition regardless of the position we took.

In an act of good faith on the part of our groups, we instead took a neutral position at today’s HCDRC hearing. The statement I made included the following:

  • We are disappointed in the outcome of Friday’s meeting, but appreciative that they met with us.
  • As an act of good faith on the part of the neighbors, who wish to engage in a constructive dialogue working with Victory for the future development, we were not taking a position of opposition.
  • I then outlined the demolition details as shown above.
  • I additionally asked that they either grass seed or sod the entire area, so that it will be more visually appealing until it is redeveloped.
  • We reiterated that MCNO plans to move forward with an Interim Zoning District for Mid-City (to implement the zoning which is called for in the Mid-City Plans) and that IZD would change the zoning before the time that Victory is ready to redevelop.
  • On behalf of MCNO & FOLC, we requested that Victory coordinate development of the Bohn Ford site in accordance with the Master Plan of the Lafitte Corridor Greenway.
  • On behalf of MCNO & FOLC, we requested that Victory arrange along with their tenants to meet with us to coordinate implementation of the Lafitte Corridor Greenway in those areas (Bohn, Rouse’s/Home Depot)

The items outlined above are being worked into a Letter of Committment which will be signed by Victory and MCNO. It should be in place in the next 2 weeks.

I am personally disappointed in the outcome, but honestly believe that this was the best strategic position to take. Thank you to the neighbors who took the time to attend today’s HCDRC Hearing (it was a LONG one).

I will plan to discuss this in more detail at the January 7th meeting (6:30pm, Grace Episcopal Church, yes, we know it is the BCS game, so will keep it brief).

Finally let me add the following bit of rumor. I’ve heard from a reputable source that part of Victory’s plan may be to wait out the current City Council in hopes of having a more favorable lineup when they present plans. Given the possible scope of the development — half a billion dollars — it seems possible that Victory could well buy some influence in the next election cycle. Something to think about.

Published inNeighborsNew Orleans

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