WWLTV: "Preservationists: Renovating Charity could save the state millions"

BATON ROUGE, La. –  A group preservationists are making a pitch to state lawmakers to save and rehabilitate Charity Hospital, which they contend is cheaper and faster than building a new hospital, rather than building a new medical complex in the Tulane-Gravier area of New Orleans.

While no action is being planned at the meeting, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana is presenting facts and information to the state House Appropriations Committee to reject a plan they believe will raze over 200 historic buildings, clear over 70 acres of Mid-City and abandon over 1,000,000 square feet of downtown New Orleans.

Members from the group told lawmakers instead of building the new LSU/VA hospital campus they could save approximately 34 percent of construction costs, which could total $283 million -- taking into consideration tax credits.

Throughout the morning, lawmakers questioned preservationists and LSU officials.

When asked what LSU officials had against renovating and updating Charity, officials replied a new model is needed to go into the future, which is what they are hoping to achieve by creating the biomedical corridor in Mid-City. Also, if a joint venture is done with LSU and the VA, officials said they would save on operating costs.

Preservationists are making the case that 200-plus property owners will be forced from their homes, adding the billion-dollar budget woes the state is facing could be eased with the savings from renovating Charity.

An independent study by architects who assessed Charity Hospital’s viability, said they can have the building ready at least two years earlier than a new hospital would be completed.
Original Article:
"Preservationists: Renovating Charity could save the state millions"
Michael Luke / Eyewitness News
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Online: http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl012209mlcharity.1c48b1b0.html