Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update on the VA Hospital Footprint

Last evening, the four houses that will be moved within the VA were in various stage of preparation for moving, like the two houses depicted above.

Besides those four houses and the three structures that will stay in some form - Dixie Brewery, the pumphouse, and the Pan-Am Building, there are three homes that will either be demolished or moved in the very near future: Robert Rogers' former residence, Deborah Brown-Cassine's home, and the little purple shotgun that Joan lived in.

Here are some additional items from last evening's VA Neighborhood Meeting (not exhaustive by any means):

- When the site is fully cleared, an 8-foot fence will go up around the site and dirt berms will be built around the perimeter
- The site will be "surcharged" - approximately six feet of dirt will be placed on top of the entire site to "de-water" it
- The projected final move date for the S.W. Green Mansion is March 2, 2011
- Once the Footprint is entirely clear, the state/LSU will transfer parcels gradually in batches to the VA; title to the land will never vest with the City of New Orleans even though the City is a sort of middleman between VA and LSU in the site prep. process
- The boring currently underway on the VA Footprint will include 14 borings around the site to test the soil's load-bearing capacity
- With respect to Dixie Brewery, no expropriation has occurred and neither VA nor the City have access to the building at this time to ascertain whether it is structurally sound.  A team is in place and will assess the building "as soon as [it] can."  The VA's intent, conditioned as it is, is to retain the red brick tower portion of the building in keeping with the April 2010 renderings.
- Cleveland Avenue streetwork underway in the 2500 and 2600 blocks just outside the VA Footprint since November is scheduled tentatively to wrap up in March
- It was unclear whether there's been full compliance with the PA's recordation requirement for the Pan-Am buildling; interior recordation has apparently not been done due to abatement issues, but some exterior recordation has been completed.  Something to follow up on.
- VA officials said that VA had "partially funded" the move of the S.W. Green mansion; I was under the impression that VA had fully funded the move until last night.
- The VA's contractor, Clark/McCarthy, is devising a vibration monitoring plan for the construction phase of the project.  It was unclear whether and when this would become public knowledge or if there's a way to comment - but the State Historic Preservation Office will review the plan at some point.

Residents and property owners in the neighborhood immediately above the VA Footprint were onhand.  They expressed concerns about vibration (and damaging effects on their historic homes), drainage, dust, possible lead contamination, street access to homes, street traffic increases, how construction crews would access the VA site, piledriving, trash, and more.

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