Children’s Hospital seeks approval for historic demolition – WWL
NEW ORLEANS — Children’s Hospital is steps closer to moving forward with a massive expansion Uptown.
On Thursday, the New Orleans City Council will vote on whether or not to demolish six historic buildings on an adjacent site — many of which have sat untouched for years.
“Since we’ve been here. We’ve seen those buildings just deteriorate and just fall down over time. Obviously after Katrina they really took a huge hit,” said Greg Sonnier.
Back in the day the old Marine Hospital Complex next to what is now Children’s Hospital was a haven for ill and disabled sailors. Later it would be reincarnated as the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) providing state mental health care to local patients.
Much of the campus has remained under-utilized since state budget cuts closed mental health services back in 2009.
Now major renovation plans are in the works to breathe new life into the historic New Orleans landmark and its network of buildings dating back to 1930s, 1880s, and 1830s.
Neighbors like Greg Sonnier says it’s long overdue.
“It’s about time to fix this and renovate these very historic buildings. Some of them go all the way back to the mid-1800s, and it would be a joy to see those renovated,” said Sonnier.
Children’s Hospital bought the property from the state in 2014 and this week is seeking the New Orleans City Council approval to demolish six historic buildings while restoring nine others.
According to our coverage partners at the Uptown Messenger, the plan is to build a new, 800-space parking garage and clinic space. The remaining historic buildings would be used for hospital administration and residential facilities for parents.
“We regret tremendously the demolition of these six buildings, but Children’s Hospital is a very important institution Uptown. They need to expand,” said Preservation Resource Center Executive Director Patricia Gay.
Gay supports the hospital’s long-term vision, adding the proposed design strikes a balance between preservation and functionality.
“They are preserving more than 75 percent of the original site and more of the square footage of the buildings,” said Gay.
The Uptown Messenger reports that neighbors met to hear the latest on the project Tuesday night. Hospital officials say it will take part in two phases: costing around $250 million.
While preserving New Orleans history is one top priority, some neighbors worry about traffic flow once the hospital expands at the busy Henry Clay Avenue at Tchoupitoulas Street.
“My concern is the traffic in the area. The amount of cars that are going to come into this one spot and then leave this one spot all at the same time. That part of the puzzle really needs to be addressed as a neighbor [the hospital],” said Sonnier.
If the New Orleans City Council approves demolition on Thursday, the hospital expansion project will then head to the Historic District Landmarks Commission for a vote next week on June 11.
To read more about this story visit our coverage partner at the Uptown Messenger.