What's next for the Charity Hospital building?

Published: Jun. 13, 2014 at 2:32 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Since the city pulled plans to turn Charity into a new civic center, many ask what's next for the hospital?

At least one developer says all hope is not lost for the historic space.

The beauty of the sprawling art deco build of Charity Hospital isn't lost on those with nostalgia.

"I'm sad that it's been neglected," said Janet Hayes with "It just brings back so many memories of pre-2005 when the hospital was operating and there was an amazing medical community and staff here."

However, even though there now may be no promising leads for development, the importance of the building still reaches beyond it's historic capabilities, according to those invested in the section of the city such as Pres Kabacoff, CEO of HRI Properties.

"It's the bridge that connects everything. It's revitalization is essential," said Kabacoff.

"Simply put, we cannot afford the project at this time, given our other critical needs," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement.

Original estimates for developing the hospital as a civic center were off by millions. The $100 million the city was hoping to receive from the state wasn't coming.

"I cannot in good faith ask the people of this city to assume close to $200 million in public debt for this project, when that money could otherwise be spent on long overdue street repairs," saind Landrieu.

"The mayor, who wanted to put Charity back in service, realized that the revitalization of charity when combined with fixing Iberville and doing retail here on upper-Canal was a way to transform the city. He gave it his best effort, couldn't make it happen," said Kabacoff.

Kabacoff said, the building still has plenty of potential for big projects such as housing, hotels or medical research clinics. Due to the building's hearty 1930's construction, a few more years sitting vacant won't hurt the building's integrity.

"I think, after reviewing the building, you can control costs effectively for the kind of development that I'm talking about," said Kabacoff. "It's an important building, and it carries important incentives with it. Historic tax credits, if you tear it down and try to build something new and lose those tax benefits, that's probably not a winner."

Hayes, who had hoped to preserve the hospital and bring back the mental health help it provided, said now it's more about bringing anyone who can help preserve the building back into the public conversation.

"We would like residents brought to the table, and we'd like residents to have a seat at what ever kind of development happens with this building in the future," said Hayes.

Mayor Landrieu said the new plan for City Hall will be to use FEMA and capital funding to repair the current building they're in

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