Wednesday, January 21, 2009

By No Means a "Done Deal"

Tonight's forum by the VCPORA can't be described as anything other than a smashing success. The Orleans Bourbon was packed, there must have been 250 people in attendance.

[recognizable faces: Karen Gadbois, James Perry, Juan Lafonta, Stacy Head, Lolis Eric Elie, Jimmy Farhenholtz, Tracy Washington and many others.]

The forum featured advocates determined to find an alternative to the current LSU/VA mega-hospital development that would permanently shutter Charity and bulldoze Lower Mid City. Naturally, they reiterated that it has become an especially bad idea to knock down Lower Mid City since prospects for funding the LSU portion of the project seem increasingly unlikely. But the real focus was on why the Foundation for Historical Louisiana's alternative plan represents a superior option.

The proposal, by the pretty damn prestigious architecture firm RMJM Hillier, suggests that a restored Charity Hospital could be remade into a top notch facility in less time and for less money than the LSU/VA mega-development slowly forcing itself through different offices and agencies in bits and pieces. This August clip has a bad score but effectively illustrates the remade Charity:





Two things to emphasize:

1. This wasn't some nobody architecture firm hired just because they do preservation work, they've done huge, prestigious projects all over the world. And they do health care facilities. I checked.

2. They say it can be done faster and for less money.

It's important to remember the sloppy way state officials went about trying to throw cold water over the RMJM Hillier proposal. I highly recommend skimming through all of it. They whine that the firm didn't do what it was asked because RMJM Hillier was only supposed to look into whether or not it was smart to reopen three floors of Charity on a temporary basis and instead came back with a cheaper, faster plan to reopen the entirety of Charity on a full time basis. (In other words admitting that they had purposely constricted the rfp to prevent any kind of inconvenient objective assessment of the building's actual feasibility.)

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Tomorrow morning, the team goes to Baton Rouge to make their case directly to the House Appropriations Committee in an informational hearing.

The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee can halt the plan to demolish Lower Mid City.

Not a done deal.

4 comments:

Mark Folse said...

What I can't find is the study. Where do we go to read it"

E said...

FHL has a short list of links for more info on the plan, not sure about the entire proposal.

slate said...

This is truly fabulous news. Wish I'd paid more attention to the calendar, I had planned to be there last night but was a day off.

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