Questions persist over the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel site

Hard Rock Crane Demolition Wednesday Update

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -One member of the city council thinks more oversight is needed on construction projects considering the deadly Hard Rock Hotel construction site collapse, while another says he wholeheartedly agrees with the mayor that every inch of the construction should be demolished.

Fencing has gone up along the site on Canal Street as local public safety personnel remain on duty there.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell has made it clear that she wants the entire crumpled site razed.

"To be clear, I don't want anything salvaged on this site. We want a complete demolition,” said Cantrell.

The collapse claimed three lives and two bodies have yet to be retrieved from the wreckage.

Councilman Jay Banks says he sides with the mayor on what should happen to the tattered construction area.

"Would you want to stay in there, so no, I think it needs to come down. We do not know what the issue was and there are a million different speculations on exactly what happened,” Banks said.

Council President Helena Moreno did not go that far in reacting to questions about the site.

"Look, I'm going to rely on expert analysis on that and to tell you the truth I do not have that type of expertise to make that type of determination, so I'm going to rely on them,” she said.

City ordinances already on the books say, “In any emergency where life, health, property or public safety is in imminent danger, the code official may take any necessary action(s) to protect the endangered life, health, property or public safety…Any determination that an emergency demolition is necessary to protect endangered life, health, property or public safety, shall be made by the director of the department of safety and permits.”

Banks said too much has happened at the location to avoid tearing down what’s already been constructed.

"Whatever happened we know it wasn't good, so at the end of the day I think we ought to take it down and start from scratch,” he said.

Moreno says given the tragic incident there are areas where the city should take steps to ensure that such projects are safe for all concerned.

"We probably need more checks and balances and we need to probably, you know, put in place some standards that these developers have to adhere to,” Moreno said.

And she said it should not be a guessing game over which construction workers are at a particular site, on any given day.

"And this was one of the problems that we faced when the accident occurred, is we need to make sure that these developers are keeping a log of everyone that is working in these buildings every single day,” said Moreno. “That was really difficult on that first day, trying to figure out who was there and who was not. And the fact that, that's not a requirement, I think maybe it should be."

Still, she is not ready to call for a pause in city approval of large-scale projects.

"I’m not sure if we need to press the pause button, but I think that we just need to ramp up our efforts when it comes to oversight,” Moreno stated.

The developers of the hotel project, 1031 Canal Development LLC., issued the following statement:

“Our highest priority is the care and concern for the families involved. While there are many questions that are unanswerable at this juncture, our prayers and sympathies are with the good men and women who have been affected. We are hopeful that the thoughts and prayers throughout the community will help us as we continue to work with local authorities and the General Contractor to identify the causes of the incident.”

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