Planned Parenthood site Uptown still sits empty

Published: Aug. 21, 2014 at 8:47 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS - Eight months after Planned Parenthood held a ceremony to break ground on a new Claiborne Avenue facility, the lot still sits untouched.

The announcement of a new 8,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood facility Uptown drew both supporters and opponents of the organization. In May, some city leaders joined representatives from Planned Parenthood for a ceremonial ground-breaking.

At the time, Melissa of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said, "We provide affordable, accessible health care in a non-judgmental manner with the highest commitment to personal and caring service."

We were told the facility would open in 2014. In September, Williams Architects applied for and was granted a six-month building permit for the site. Trimark Construction is listed on the permit as the contractor for the job. But when contacted by FOX 8, Trimark's CEO William Ryan denied having anything to do with the Planned Parenthood project. Ryan said Trimark provided advice to Williams Architects, but his company will not be performing any work on the site. It's unclear now if the project even has a building contractor.

The head of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, Benjamin Clapper, said his group's pro-life campaign may have played a role.

"I believe we have changed the perspective of Planned Parenthood in New Orleans and helped to educate people that Planned Parenthood isn't just about benevolent services for women, it's about an industry that is looking to sell abortion to the women of the City of New Orleans," Clapper said.

The federation spent more than $100,000 on its campaign.

"We've had billboard signs put up, we've had people in their yards putting up 'more Planned Parenthood equals more abortion' signs, we've had radio ads," explained Sarah Zagorski.

We asked a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood if the organization was having trouble finding a contractor to do the job or if they had any sort of timeline of when construction might actually begin. We received a statement saying, in part, that the organization looked forward to opening it's new health center later this year. No specifics on how that would happen were given.

Planned Parenthood already operates a facility on Magazine Street, but the Claiborne Avenue site would be much larger, and doctors there would perform abortions.

We reached out to Williams Architects for comment on this story but didn't hear back.