Bill Barrow from the Times-Picayune put out a telling article today that discusses the many hurdles that remain for adequate financing of the proposed UMC Hospital. Things aren't looking entirely rosy.
Yesterday's revelatory UMC Management Corporation Board meeting came one day after a city official asked a few of us at the VA Neighborhood meeting, "Now, let me ask you something - do you really think they aren't going to get their money?" When I and a few others noted that no, UMC does not have any assurance of ever getting the necessary funding, there was laughter, as if in disbelief.
Well, yesterday's meeting reinforced our position. The UMC Board's own national consultant was saying all kinds of things, as I heard while I was onhand. Like the fact that "The construction time-line is far ahead of the financing and management structures," according to a representative from J.P. Morgan Chase. In fact, he later reiterated that site preparation "was so very far ahead of us" as if to emphasize the unhealthy gap. This was noted as a concern that might jeopardize HUD backing.
Barrow lays out it very clearly and notes the even starker terms:
State-hired architects have plans drawn, state consultants are completing land acquisition and the state facilities office is ready to hire a construction manager. But, Spiak told the board, as long as the state is pursuing the HUD insurance, the state cannot proceed with site preparation and construction without HUD's permission.
That last sentence is big. That means that any site work proceeding in the LSU Footprint at this time should be questioned - or at least documented. I encourage anyone interested to do just that until we hear something publicly from HUD saying that site preparation and construction can proceed.
For months, I've been trying to stop the State and its contractors from continuing to demolish historic homes in the LSU Footprint because many of them are contributing properties in a national historic district. I've tried to illustrate the losses here at Inside the Footprint and point out that adequate financing is still not in place - and that demolitions in that light are foolish and regrettable.
The UMC Board also approved retaining a community relations consultant at yesterday's meeting. Given the other issues raised in the meeting, I just don't know that such a hire is going to do the trick.