Friday, January 08, 2016

Do over

Governor Edwards wants to shake up the Charity Hospital redevelopment
With a new governor set to take office next week, the state is likely to delay any decision on the fate of the former Charity Hospital building in New Orleans in favor of hiring a consultant to take a new look at how to move forward, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration sought ideas nearly a year ago for what to do with the 1 million-square-foot facility on Tulane Avenue, which was closed in 2005 after it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

The state received five responses to its request for “creative and innovative redevelopment ideas,” including one from developers who offered to buy the building and others from groups proposing to renovate it and lease the space.

The proposed uses ranged from a mental health facility to combinations of retail stores, apartments, a hotel and a biomedical facility.
Which only makes sense. It's a pretty big patronage plum in New Orleans and the new Governor has a lot of favors to pay out there.  Back in August, John Kennedy was urging Bobby Jindal to "slow down" the process in order to save some of these goodies for the next Governor, who he obviously assumed would be David Vitter, to hand out.  I wonder how he feels about it now.

Not sure why LaToya Cantrell thinks she's owed anything. 
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, whose district includes the hospital, welcomed what she described as a “fresh start” to the process.

“It didn’t feel like an inclusive process,” Cantrell said of the earlier effort, which she said did not include much input from the city. “With the new leadership coming on, New Orleans will be included on a lot of different matters.”
You might remember, though, from LaToya's bizarre, "Why isn't this all about me?" rant when City Council voted to take down the Confederate monuments, that "inclusive process" is kind of her go-to soundbite.

Meanwhile, as you might expect, some of the folks who thought they'd already submitted the necessary bribes paperwork are a little put out about having to start over.  Others seem like they have a brighter attitude about it.
News of the delay drew mixed reactions from interested developers.

Michael Brandner of CHR Partners LLC, a team that includes local developers Joseph Jaeger and Joseph Stebbins, criticized the delay, saying his group was ready to buy Charity for $30 million and spend $245 million renovating it into apartments, a hotel, a biomedical facility and retail stores.

“I don’t think that anybody was expecting a group to come forward to say, ‘Look, we’ll just buy the whole thing,’ ” he said.

But Josh Collen, vice president of development with Historic Restoration Inc., which has proposed spending $194 million to revamp the hospital into an apartment complex, artist lofts, a day care center, retail stores and a medical research facility, said restarting the process makes sense.

“I’m not terribly surprised. It’s a very important building for the state and the city,” he said. “Obviously, they want to get it right and make sure they pick the right partner and find the right project.”
Roughly translated, those comments might indicate that the Lords of Jaegerton felt like they had an inside track whereas now that the process is restarting the Kabacoffians have renewed hope of annexing the territory.  If they can, then that's good news for us. A quick look at the NOligarchs map reminds us we had already drawn the boundaries in Kabacoffia's favor.

This is probably because our cartography department jumped the gun after reading HRI's proposal.  But now we're kind of rooting for them just so we don't have to backtrack.

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