The VA groundbreaking proceeded with patriotic military efficiency today. Mayor Landrieu, Gov. Jindal and Secretary Shinseki all praised the new hospital project. The Mayor did announce that “one hundred houses would be moved” and that it was a “win/win” for everyone (no response from the audience).
The Times-Picayune reported news that I take to be positive, even though it's unfortunate at the same time:
Landrieu announced at the ceremony that the VA, state and city have agreed to redirect $3.2 million of the project's budget to move about 100 residential properties in the footprint that would otherwise be razed. The money will come out of the $79 million in federal hurricane recovery money that the city had committed to land acquisition and site preparation for the VA hospital.
Builders of Hope and other non-profit organizations will handle the moves, Landrieu said.
"We are a city that prides itself on its culture, architecture and historic neighborhoods, and we are committed to preserving those elements which make our city a national treasure," the mayor said.
At least the Mayor has come around to the position of agreeing to help save the historic houses by moving them to other sites in Mid-City with the assistance of various non-profits. I'm very glad to hear a public commitment to moving them, and I'm very glad that some of my efforts off-blog with several others back in the spring helped to bring enough attention to the issue that something beneficial might yet come to fruition.
But the VA project is seemingly going ahead as planned - an ill-sited affair that nevertheless destroys the historic neighborhood inside a National Register Historic District. If we truly prided ourselves on our "culture, architecture, and historic neighborhoods", New Orleans - and the Mayor, more specifically - wouldn't be permitting the structure to go up lakeside of S. Galvez Street.