Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ghosts of the Footprint

Recently, I went to hear a friend's band at Banks Street Bar, back behind Jesuit in Mid-City.

As I walked into the dim ramshackle establishment that I evening, I felt, in a strange way, like I was back in the VA Footprint in Outer Banks Bar.

There, standing next to a pole, was James, the loyal Outer Banks patron, the wall boards leaning behind him.

Across the way, seated at a table near the neon glow by the door was another Outer Banks regular-in-exile, Bryan.  He sat there with his hat, white pants, shades, and grin looking like Burma Jones exiled from the Night of Joy.

Still, it wasn't quite the same.

Down what was left of Banks Street, down a ways under the dark of the remaining oak boughs, a great expanse of dirt stretched out under the night sky.

Inside "The Trapezoid"

The proposed sites of the UMC and VAMC hospitals (LSU Footprint and VA Footprint, respectively) both fall within an area of New Orleans that I've called The Footprint.  

Those who've been following the blog know that The Footprint falls within a much larger footprint - the 1,500-acre site of BioDistrict New Orleans.

The Footprint also falls within a giant, roughly trapezoidal shape that HANO and HRI are calling the Iberville-Treme (I don't think it will stick - the areas involved are too disparate).  Today, HANO/HRI received a $30.5 million grant from the federal government (HUD) for a variety of activities within that trapezoid, including the demolition of about 2/3 of the existing buildings in the Iberville Projects campus.

Even though the plan calls for renovations of some major historic buildings in the area - such as the Mondy and Augustine schools, I'm concerned that the federal government, as it did with LSU/VA, continues to fund grandiose projects (with dollars that the federal government doesn't have) that create additional waves of uncertainty that ripple out through an already weary community that is just trying to figure out which giant new footprint it happens to fall within on any given day.

At the very least, the project features less of an emphasis on full-scale, old-style urban renewal.  But it deserves full attention, as some neighborhood groups, like one in historic Treme, did not even know a few weeks ago about the specific, dense, infill developments proposed for within its boundaries.

"I can't control a state hospital"

Outgoing Council Member Fielkow stated that just now on WBOK radio this afternoon as he talked about the Council's influence over where various government dollars go.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's entirely accurate.

Looking back, Fielkow, as a City Council member, was involved at the very beginning in permitting the LSU/VA project to move forward.  For example, he was involved in the March 2007 Regional Planning Commission resolution pushing for a "downtown" VA site - which an April 2007 CEA between the City and State revealed to be...the RPC site above S. Galvez.  The CEA also laid out the current site of the UMC.

He also voted in support of the December 2007 ordinance that established a moratorium in the LSU/VA footprints, banning people from even repairing their homes and functionally establishing a blanket of planner's blight over the site that depressed property values as expropriation was getting underway.

Fielkow also voted for the revocation of the streets in both the VA and UMC footprints.

So, council members did have several opportunities to control the state hospital (and the federal hospital)'s just that they didn't choose to control the hospital - or the funding involved.

"No members of the public attended"

Here are the official summaries from the 2nd and 3rd "public" meetings on adaptive reuse of Charity Hospital, held this spring:

March 16, 2011

March 30, 2011

As I said some time ago, nobody attended because nobody knew about the meetings - and neither the state nor its contractor emailed notice to consulting parties (the method by which the first public meeting was announced) despite having all the email addresses.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Suspended in a haze of smoke

Fires burning off in the east cast a sickly shadow over the site of the proposed UMC today. Charity Hospital, still vacant, was barely visible off in the distance through the smoke.  As a friend agreed this morning, the acrid lungfuls are appropo for New Orleans - there's always a tinge of the apocalypse in the air.

The churned remnants of S. Johnson Street sat in the heat.

Dust from equipment on the site added to the thick air.

At the old Grand Palace Hotel, workers had the wooden cover off the entry to the former parking structure.

The sooty air lingered in the French Quarter.

It hung like a pall over the tombs of St. Louis #2 Cemetery, visible below the elevated expressway that may yet disappear.  The roofs of the Iberville Projects are visible as well - many of the buildings will soon be demolished under a redevelopment proposal put forward by HANO and Pres Kabacoff's HRI, likely under a federally funded "Choice Neighborhoods Grant."

Remember the mystery walker?

Well, she has a few videos up from her walk.

Like this one - a typical visit with a resident of BioDistrict New Orleans who knows nothing about the existence of the BioDistrict, much less the planning process that started last fall:

*Sumbitted video.

Why are neighborhoods even included in the boundaries of the BioDistrict - which is charged with developing biosciences infrastructure?  My hypothesis is that the district, despite contentions that it wants to improve neighborhoods like Mid-City (which is not its legislatively assigned mandate), needs a tax base to tap into down the road.

A good prescription.

Dr. John says: Study ALL the hospital options...

And follow the Doctor's orders.

Video of David Simon's Keynote Address at Rising Tide

David Simon - Keynote Speaker, Rising Tide VI from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Palmyra Street, Six Years After Katrina

To paraphrase Tacitus:

To usurp under false titles without funds, they call progress; and where they make a desert, they call it development.

Today, instead of a functioning University Medical Center humming along in the sturdy shell of the former Charity Hospital building, there still isn't even a business plan for the UMC proposed for Lower Mid-City.  Nor is there adequate financing in place to build the first phase of the hospital.

There is, however, a largely destroyed swath of the city standing increasingly vacant between Canal, Tulane, S. Galvez, and Claiborne.

If the State of Louisiana, LSU, UMC, City of New Orleans and various federal agencies had pursued the retrofit of Charity three years ago, we could have had a state-of-the-art hospital in place today - and it would have been less expensive (the state has the money onhand to realize the Charity option at present).

Instead, there are no signs that the UMC Board has even considered the Charity option, and is instead bulling forward with the disastrous Lower Mid-City site out of embarrassment.  

Not long for this world (and more on the origins of the done deal)

Some 2008 chatter about the fate of the giant old Grand Palace/Delta Towers hotel building, located in the LSU Footprint, dredges up this old image from 2008:

Ah, if only.  Note that the truly "joint" site pitched to the news media at the time did not extend above S. Galvez Street.  One must question whether anyone involved with the project actually thought that the layout pictured above would be pursued when the image appeared in the press in 2008.

In the spring of 2007, all sorts of regional leaders were ready to sacrifice the neighborhood in what we now know as the VA Footprint - and were making official pronouncements and legal agreements in furtherance of construction on that site.  The Regional Planning Commission passed a resolution about a downtown VA hospital on March 13, 2007 - although it did not specifically mention the "RPC" site.  An April 30 Cooperative Endeavor Agreement entered into by the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana's Division of Administration, however, did specify the current VA site, the one that goes all the way to S. Rocheblave Street:

The City, State, and RPC essentially ensured that the jump across S. Galvez would occur.  The "RPC" site, the current VA Footprint, was the only site that they all pushed via various agreements and arrangements for more than a year before the actual "official" site selection from a list of three ostensible options was made by VA.

Given that the City employed over $70 million in CDBG funds for site preparation...and the state had the LSU Board of Supervisors employ its quick take expropriation power to acquire many of the properties...that mattered a great deal.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Times-Pic highlights David Simon's skepticism about LSU/VA, BioDistrict...but conveniently skims over his harsh comments about the Mayor


Readers of Inside the Footprint will already be familiar with the Baltimore example that Simon cited and the Times-Pic references in the article, specifically one Baltimore paper's in-depth report that includes the line:

"The nation's largest urban redevelopment, a projected $1.8 billion effort to transform 88 acres of East Baltimore into a world-class biotech park and idyllic urban community, lies derailed amid vacant lots, boarded houses and unfulfilled dreams a decade after it began,"

A Letter about the BioDistrict

...appeared in today's Times-Picayune from Lili, who lives in Mid-City.

Note the first comment, which points out that key points have been carved out of the version that was actually published.

More on David Simon on the Mayor, demolition, and the folly of LSU/VA

Here, in a somewhat pointillist splatter, are some Twitter perspectives and quotes from David Simon's keynote address at the Rising Tide 6 Conference today at Xavier.

I was in the crowd, and it was incredible to hear Simon say some things that needed to be said - both about the LSU/VA project and the scuffle over the "Treme" row of houses on Derbigny Street.  While I disagreed with some of his lump comments about "preservationists" as it related to the Derbigny houses, I think he had some incendiary and eye-opening things to say:

David Simon winning back the audience with some Ad Hominem on city hall/Biomedical district. #RT6

David Simon: "I've got news for you - LSU is NOT the premier medical institution in the South" #Rt6 (But tops in bar fights!)

Now David Simon forecasting doom for LSU/VA project based on John Hopkins' tear downs in East Baltimore #Rt6

Wait. Did Simon actually accuse the Mayor of "a shakedown" to his face? Or was he relating to us his internal monologue #rt6

The Lens
“@cohenlensnola: #davidsimon is really, really not a fan of the LSU-VA medical center plan.” #RT6

David Eidler
Simon relates Baltimore John Hopkins fiasco to LSU downtown project #rt6

David Simon at Rising Tide talking about the call from @MayorLandrieu re demolitions - "He went batshit" #Rt6

Charles Maldonado
Simon: "He told me that they were doing this and doing that and did I know what a great mayor he was." #rt6

uǝןɐʞ (@lunanola)

#rt6 David Simon re: the demolition of blighted property debacle: "Your new mayor -- the new guy who was better than the last guy -- at the moment when the cameras were on him, he'd have thrown anybody under a bus."

I'd love to be in the room when Landrieu sees this David Simon video. #rt6

Proposal: New Orleans and Baltimore form a dirt field sisterhood. #RT6

Simon deconstructing the fallacy that is holding up Baltimore's (non) development of East Baltimore as an example for cities to emulate #rt6

Inside the Footprint did not ultimately win the Ashley award, but did receive some kind words of honorary mention from Mark Moseley up on the dais.

David Simon at Rising Tide

He's using the example of Baltimore to savage the idea that the LSU \ VA project will solve New Orleans' problems. He notes pointedly that Baltimore's bioscience demolished 20-acre site remains largely fallow today.

A Telling Blue Scrap


Last Tuesday, this blue sunburst portion of the decorative trim (gingerbread) that once graced the gable of the house at 226 S. Galvez Street lay partially ground into the dirt in the LSU Footprint.

Under the Salvage Agreement in an appendix of the Programmatic Agreement for the hospital project, the following architectural elements were mandated for salvage:

Decorative “gingerbread” trim

Friday, August 26, 2011

Inside the Footprint nominated for Ashley Morris Award

I'm stunned to be considered for the award, given out annually at the Rising Tide Convention, which kicks off this evening.

Here are the two comments that constitute the nominations:

Editor B said...
I can nominate more than once? In that case: Brad V of Inside the Footprint. Relentless coverage of the razing of a neighborhood, asking the questions that need to be asked.
Thursday, August 4, 2011 3:16:00 PM CDT

Robert Morris said...
For "fierce passionate defense of New Orleans," I'd say the Inside the Footprint blog deserves strong consideration. Purely original reporting, delivered in both quantity and quality. I rarely make it inside the footprint myself, but Brad V.'s work takes me there on a daily basis.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:53:00 PM CDT

Many thanks.  I remember attending the conference in 2008, and I didn't quite understand some of the sentiments at the time.  After nearly two years of blogging here, though, it all makes total sense.  I've seen plenty.

I will say that each visit to the Footprint does give one an overwhelming desire to say....

"Modular Grid Modern" - and Mid-City Historic District Expansion

Recently, Crescent Growth Capital, the entity that's redeveloping the former Lindy Boggs or Mercy Hospital site near the end of Bayou St. John, proposed an expansion of the period of significance for the Mid-City National Register Historic District.  It also proposed boundary changes.

The period of significance, key for obtaining historic tax credits, is proposed for extension to include the period of 1943-1961 - which would sweep in more Mid-Century Modern buildings, like the LSU Footprint building on Canal Street shown above.  It was pictured in Crescent Growth's Baton Rouge presentation as an example of Modular Grid Modern, one of the styles that would be eligible for the National Register under the expanded concept of the district.  The building, to my knowledge, is still set to be demolished.

The presentation also acknowledged two small reductions in the district due to new infill housing being built by Providence Community Housing, along with "a larger contraction" due to the destruction wrought by the LSU/VA project, which largely fell within the Mid-City District.

In total, the numbers of contributing historic properties in the district have dropped since the last survey years ago, falling from 3,811 structures to 3,567 structures.  In the non-contributing department, there are now 539 structures, down from 678.

The proposed change to the district also seeks to sweep in industrial buildings, such as the brick warehouse and shop buildings along the former Carondelet Canal, now the site of the proposed Lafitte Greenway.

The National Register of Historic Places will ultimately have to decide on whether or not it will accept the proposed changes.

A Letter from the Advisory Council

The Lens unearths a letter sent from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to the City of New Orleans regarding the treatment of the moved VA houses.

As someone who's been both a long-time supporter of the house moving alternative - a majority of the moved houses are secured and re-roofed - and someone's who's concerned about the failure to get the remainder back into some semblance of order...I can say that I have seen the letter and thought about it a bit.

A key problem with the letter is this: the Programmatic Agreement (PA) that the ACHP cites as it chastises the City...doesn't actually address the house moving that the Landrieu administration ultimately pushed for in response to the calls made citizens and preservationists.  That's not meant as an excuse, just a hard look at the text.

The PA only contained stipulations that addressed a much more modest house moving effort that the VA agreed to fund at the outset of the hospital project - and only 3 houses ultimately moved under that program (with owners, with roofs intact).  The 72 additional houses moved as part of the effort that materialized in summer of 2010 (covered extensively on this blog - without owners, without roofs) are not envisioned in the PA.  Thus, for better or for worse, the PA proper, as governing document for effects on historic resources, arguably has nothing to say about the vast bulk of the houses that moved off the site - the City effort that came after demolition had started was and is entirely "extra-PA."

A somewhat better hook - and the one that the ACHP probably should have used in its letter - is a provision in a letter from the State Historic Preservation Office that's constitutes part of an appendix to the PA (below in blue).  In the letter, the SHPO makes it clear that the "Area of Potential Effects" for the project would have to be expanded if any houses moved off site.  In other words, it's likely that more process would have been required to address the potential effects of the moved houses on the historic neighborhoods where many of them landed (and possibly the effects of roof removal, etc. on the moved houses themselves):

To my knowledge, the SHPO understanding  in 3(c) has never been been realized despite the moving of many houses into different locations, as I've mapped here.  I know of no extension or change to the "APE" that would serve to acknowledge that more historic buildings and neighborhoods were being affected by the project.

Finally, the piece in The Lens notes the handful of houses that moved into Historic Treme.  Of all the houses that moved off site, these really are the most incongruent with their new surroundings in terms of historic and architectural context (parts of Hoffman Triangle come close, but the existing neighborhood was not as deeply historic as Treme).  That's why I was fine with the article employing the photo from this blog.

In the end, I remain hopeful that the house moving effort will succeed.  Many of the properties continue to creep forward toward better condition, and I still say that even if only 2/3 of them ultimately come back in commerce with historic character intact, it will be better than the alternative faced in June of 2010 - mass demolition of all 72 houses along with the scores of other structures that were in fact demolished.

Letter to the UMC Board

Martha Owen, a small business owner, staunch advocate for good government, and supporter of the Charity Hospital alternative site for the UMC sent this timely letter to the UMC Board recently.

I share it here with her permission (click on any portion to enlarge):

Note especially the attachments listed - like the inclusion of the over 10,000 petitions delivered to Mayor Landrieu last year calling for the building of a modern hospital inside Charity Hospital according to the RMJM/Hillier study.

The UMC Board is scheduled to meet on September 8.  I wonder if they'll finally have a business plan - now that the LSU Footprint has been almost entirely destroyed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quick call for funds

If you'd like to support a public records request that relates to the Footprint (a request for documents regarding Dixie Brewery), please make a donation on the sidebar - the request has been submitted, but the cost is more substantial than anticipated.  Any help would be appreciated.

ADDED:  Thanks to those who've donated - it's a great help.

Watching, wondering


As of yesterday afternoon, the modernist building - this one - on Banks Street in the LSU Footprint...was gone, yet another piece of New Orleans modernist architectural heritage (it was designed by Colbert - same as the recently demolished Phillis Wheatley School) lost to the wrecking ball.

The property line stake appeared only recently.  It's interesting because the parcel that it's stuck in the middle of - Pershing Place, a small pocket park, is still shown as owned by the City of New Orleans on the Assessor's map, the property being listed as 29348 Tulane Avenue.

Perhaps the stake marks where the highway right of way ends.

But the Assessor's record showing this parcel as still owned by the City is interesting.

1.  Is the park land supposed to be incorporated as part of the UMC project?  Every map and rendering I've seen presented publicly shows the park being subsumed into some sort of plaza at the corner of S. Galvez and Tulane Avenue:

I've inquired about the fate of the statue in the park, and it sounds like VA may incorporate it into the adjacent VA site.

Still the June 2011 report on the site posted at the DOA website...does not appear to show the parcel (or the other tiny little triangular parcel immediately riverside of the park - which has no assessor record) as one of the parcels involved in the project:

One would think that the parcel would be shown below the far left lower corner if it was meant to be a colored parcel on the map.

2.  If the parcel is in fact going to be transferred as some renderings show - or has been transferred - to the LSU Board of Supervisors for the UMC project...will the state have to pay or did it pay?  The property is listed at $389,000.  To my knowledge, the state did not compensate the city for all that land that it gained from the tearing out of the street grid in the LSU Footprint.

Test Pile Driving Underway in UMC

"this is a relatively clean site"

Recovery Czar Ed Blakely had this to say about the VA site in 2008:

You know, this site...not like there was anything there:

I'd like to know what projects Blakely was involved in that required the moving of 1,000 houses.

Of course, he's known to embellish just a bit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Spotlight on Site Selection

Recently, I talked about the 2007 MOU between the City of New Orleans and the VA, the one that focused in great detail on the current VAMC site between S. Galvez and S. Rocheblave.  It was signed on November 19, 2007, and it very clearly envisions a VA site that has already "jumped Galvez" into the neighborhood centered on Outer Banks Bar:

The City was already proffering this "targeted developable and usable area of land" - also known as a dense, recovering, historic neighborhood - to the wolves as of August 2007 per the letter.  And it had signed an earlier April 2007 CEA specifying the site.

But all sorts of official documentation in the summer of 2008 kept up the myth that all sorts of alternative sites besides this "RPC" selected site were still being considered.

Here's a letter from VA to the State Historic Preservation Officer in August 2008 sustaining the illusion of three alternative sites:

Did VA ever have any intent of actually selecting one of the alternatives...given the MOU legal agreement with the City that was signed nearly a year earlier?

A letter from VA to SHPO in November 2008 further sustained the mirage:

....the key language being...

For more on this series of events, see this classic Gambit piece from December 2008.  It's important to keep a clear timeline in mind.

Big crowd turns out for info on Mitigation Grant, Historic Tax Credits

Nearly 100 people showed up at a Mid-City Neighborhood Organization meeting last evening to learn about the Mid-City Mitigation Grant program, which stems from the LSU/VA destruction of a large portion of the Mid-City National Historic District, as well as historic tax credits.

The Prairie

The VA Footprint, S. Rocheblave Street still under construction in the foreground, as seen from just outside the perimeter looking toward the river.  The Blood Center and the former Grand Palace Hotel, along with Charity Hospital, are all still visible off in the distance.  The LSU or UMC Footprint starts where the trees visible along S. Galvez.

The live oaks off on the right are the ones that remain of the many that lined what was once Banks Street.

In the words of one Anthony Turducken: "lower mid-city = urban prairie"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Cleveland Avenue

Here's what the remains of Cleveland Avenue looked like today in the LSU Footprint, as seen from S. Galvez Street.  Approximately 20 historic buildings, mostly residences, lined the strip that's visible when I first started walking the footprint.  The unfunded wasteland grows.

Off in the distance, you'll note one other interesting recent development if you click on the photo and zoom in - a temporary external lift on the side of the former Pallas or Grand Palace Hotel, which crews appear to be preparing for demolition.

Expropriation Law Inside the Footprint

I've noted the existence of a variety of law suits relating to the over 150 expropriations in the VA and LSU sites over time.

Derrick Morrison from the Committee to Reopen Charity recently excerpted from one that I haven't highlighted in depth to date here on the blog - the suit filed by the Blood Center of Southeast Louisiana.

The Blood Center was evicted from its facilities earlier this month after expropriation (see above notice photo and move out photo below) and is now operating temporarily out of a former car dealership in New Orleans East.

What are the chief legal arguments involved in the suit against the LSU Board of Supervisors?  Well, many of them align quite closely with the more general arguments that have been raised here and elsewhere:

The attorneys for The Blood Center make some great observations:

Here's a view of the Blood Center's current home out in The East:

"We're gettin what they promised. They said we'd be last. And we are last."

At the most recent VA neighborhood meeting, I noted that the ongoing work on streets like S. Rocheblave, Palmyra, and Cleveland - the streets immediate above the VA Footprint - is being done explicitly in furtherance of the VAMC project.  Some seemed to take umbrage at that assertion, but I think it's relevant given the problems the street work has been causing for residents for months and the constant attempts to shift blame.

The title quote comes from Mr. Leon, a resident on S. Rocheblave, who has been facing tumult on his street, the lakeside boundary of the VA site, since the fall of 2010 - dust, digging, mud, vibration, sudden lack of access, etc.   He's been at almost every VA neighborhood meeting since they began early last fall to discuss the issue.  And, as he noted, it's still not over.

A look at a 2007 letter from the City of New Orleans to the VA Administration, incorporated as Attachment B in the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the City and VA, shows that the street work is very explicitly being conducted in furtherance of the VA project:

The text reveals that the VA, even if it is not conducting the street improvement work on the adjacent and feeder streets, was very much involved in the planning of what the reasonable improvements would consist of...

....which, one would think, would entail some planning to ensure that the work was conducted in a manner that reduced impact on the peripheral neighbors.

At any rate, the VA's construction contractor has at least made greater outreach efforts to address existing and potential damage to homes than the City of New Orleans has - or the City's contractors.

On a different note, the meeting also revealed that VA had consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office regarding Dixie Brewery to see how much of the building can be saved, the 1907 portion being the part VA wants to save.  A VA rep said that VA was seeking ways to stabilize some of the weaker external wall bays from the inside.

'an area "suffering disinvestment"'

There was no mention of the PA-mandated Charity Hospital adaptive reuse process in the Friday Times-Picayune story on a new downtown development plan.

The quote about the historic medical district suffering disinvestment is heavy with irony, even if the administrations have changed since the decision to support the abandonment of the core made during the Nagin administration (aided and abetted by the full City Council).

The vacancies and disinvestment in the area around City Hall and Charity Hospital are the direct, causal result of government actions post-Katrina - city, state, and federal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Myth of Synergy

It's been proclaimed dead here and on sites like for years (literally), but the supposed synergy of the LSU/VA hospital projects finally took a death blow in the mainstream media when the Times-Picayune delved in on Sunday:

The separate plans highlight the evolution of the two medical centers from visions of a true joint project to talk of shared facilities and, finally, to the reality of two adjacent complexes with considerably fewer "synergies" than what state and federal authorities once agreed were possible. Even the prospect of any remaining cooperation is up in the air.

LSU, as has been clear to many of us all along, simply used the VA as its stalking horse to get what a man at a recent public meeting called "LSU's play pen" in what is now the ruined LSU Footprint site.

The Times-Picayune also finally makes a comment touching on some of the skepticism about BioDistrict New Orleans:

Even with partnership options available, the fluidity of the plans stand in stark contrast to the way government officials have pitched the two new medical centers, which in turn are framed as the public's $2 billion-plus anchor investment for a New Orleans BioDistrict, which is both a state-chartered entity and a concept that envisions downtown and Mid-City blossoming into an epicenter for health care, medical research and scientific innovation.

It's largely a mirage at this point - a dangerous mirage that puts large swaths of Mid-City neighborhood as risk.

Like the UMC, the BioDistrict as its currently configured is excessively ambitious and incompatible with the historic fabric of New Orleans.  It's not an inherently bad thing - it's just being incredibly sloppy and sprawling in its push for development.

State failed to remove all underground storage tanks in VA Footprint

If you look closely, you'll see mounds of dirt in the shadows before Dixie Brewery.

At last week's VA neighborhood meeting, I asked why they were there.  I knew that the location was very close to where the contractors had dug up a great deal of seemingly contaminated soil - and "UST"s that were transported to River Birch landfill.

Well, I was told that an additional UST was discovered - which the state had not removed.  And VA said the state was now going to have to remove the tank.

It makes one wonder what else was not completed...and what else will get covered by the approximately 7 feet of fill that will be coming in soon to "surcharge" the VA Footprint - compact the soil and "de-water" it through sheer weight.

Ms. Stokes asked where all the 450,000 cubic yards of fill will be coming from - again, relevant because some entity will be getting paid that would not get paid if the hospitals had been put back in their CBD location.  The answer was a bit unclear, but the word "Murphy" was in the mix, a company providing sand located "12 miles away" - perhaps Murphy Sand Company out of Chalmette.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

McDonogh No. 11 - Relocation Update

Here's what I know.

Recently, the bids were opened in response to the RFP issued by the state for relocation of the McDonogh No. 11 School out of the LSU (UMC) Footprint.  Only two companies bid on the project.

One company, Patterson Shoring, bid approximately $1.4 million.  The other company, Orleans Shoring, the winning bidder, bid approximately $300,000.

You may recall Orleans Shoring as one of the key contractors involved in the VA house moving effort (and the possible UMC house moving effort as well).

The chasm between the bid amounts seems a bit stunning, as does the low number of bids.

In the end, my chief concern is for the continued integrity of the structure as the move proceeds.  Patterson appears to have significant experience with moving large, masonry structures.  Orleans was involved in the successful moving of the S.W. Green Mansion, but that's about the only somewhat analogous example I can find.

Two in the Times-Pic



More later on these two pieces.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grand Palace Hotel

Fencing went up around the large building in the 1700 block of Canal recently.

Today, crews were visible inside the fences.

A bid notice regarding demolition went out weeks ago.

As far as I can tell, the existing parking structure is included within the scope of the planned demolition.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starting Tonight

The 2011 Louisiana Smart Growth Summit starts this evening in Baton Rouge - although it seems to have nothing to do with the organization called Smart Growth for Louisiana that is active in a number of ways in New Orleans.

In fact, it's rather interesting to see that MAPP Construction, LLC (Skanska/MAPP is the construction manager at risk for the proposed UMC project) is one of the major sponsors.

Here's one of the most interesting panels, set for early Friday morning:

NOLA Rising: How Downtown New Orleans is Redesigning, Rebuilding, and Rebranding Smarter Post-hurricane Katrina

James McNamara
BioDistrict New Orleans

Zoey Devall
Downtown Development District of New Orleans

Michael Hecht
Greater New Orleans, Inc.

Session attendees will hear from three New Orleans organizations as to how the city has rebranded and marketed itself to improve its economic future.


Streets vanish in the LSU Footprint

Palmyra has been gnawed at.

And most of those stretches of street that remain, like part of S. Prieur, have been blocked off.

Even S. Roman Street, below - which was not being torn up as of yesterday.