Monday, December 15, 2008

City Business Picks Up Slack

It is increasingly clear that the Times-Picayune has no interest in covering the LSU/VA and Charity Hospital.

City Business has two clutch articles out right now.

First, Richard Webster provides a little bit of context for those that say the residents of Lower Mid City should be forced out of their homes to make way for the new LSU/VA projects.

It’s for the greater good of the city.

Those are typically the last words a community hears before the bulldozers roll in and demolish homes and businesses, clearing a path for promised economic development.

The residents are told to take one for the team. They’re promised they’ll be taken care of, that they will be justly compensated for the loss of their home and their sacrifice will benefit all of New Orleans.

This is what the people who live in lower Mid-City on the footprint of the planned LSU-VA medical complex are being told. But given how the city and state have handled past economic development projects, it appears more likely that those standing in the way will be tossed to the side and forgotten all in the name of progress, said Bobbi Rogers, director of the Lower Mid-City Residents and Business Owners Association.

“There’s very little hope that the city will be fair in this matter to its citizens,” Rogers said. “Look what they’re doing to the public housing residents and what they did to the people who lived in St. Thomas or Treme when they built Armstrong Park. People have been led to believe that if you sacrifice, you’ll have financial gain. People tell me how much I’m going to make out. My response to them is, ‘Would you like to trade places and gamble on that?’”

He includes some words from Dave Dixon of Goody Clancy, the firm now doing the zoning master plan and a guy that's slowly earning some of my respect:

“The idea that people need to sacrifice for the greater good isn’t necessary. What it leads to ultimately is paralysis,” Dixon said. “Unless those sacrifices are somehow visibly spread across the entire community, those people will stand up and say, ‘It’s not fair. We’re the only ones being asked to sacrifice and we don’t share the benefits.’

“So they fight the process and it becomes much more difficult to create larger projects and attract investors because no ones likes to fund a controversial project in this day and age. New Orleans is in a position to attract a lot of investment, but it will be very hard to do in a city where people are constantly fighting over each proposal.”

That's not all from City Business, either.

Ariella Cohen
wrote a sterling piece about "plans" to market the old Charity Hospital for some sort of condo redevelopment. State law ensures that it can't even hit the market for another two or three years because it has to be offered to other state agencies first. Even then, the condo market isn't exactly robust these days.

The best little nugget from this article comes from Downtown Development District President and CEO Kurt Weigle:

The building is so large that you could have luxury condos on top with a private entrance for the owners, students on the other side and seniors in another wing with none of them even knowing the other is there...

Yes, let's turn our Charity Hospital into a diorama of social stratification. It's going to look great in the December 2017 DDD e-newsletter.


Civitch said...

There is no funding for the VA site.

There are no plans for the Big Charity building.

*NOTHING* should proceed until those two issues are resolved.

E said...

The moment any objective observer from the upcoming Obama administration comes down here and takes a look at this, it's dead in the water.

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