Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has received five responses to its call for “creative and innovative redevelopment ideas” for the vacant former Charity Hospital building in New Orleans.
Responses were received by Wednesday’s deadline from the University of North Carolina School of Government; the Lewisville, Texas, real estate development firm Matthews Southwest; local developer HRI Properties; New Jersey-based builder CHR Partners LLC; and the local group Healing Minds NOLA, according to the state Division of Administration.
The state agency did not provide details about the content of the proposals, but the two local groups shared their plans.
HRI Properties said it would convert the building into a mixed-use facility including medical offices, research space, retail, restaurants, apartments, a day care center and a playground.
Healing Minds NOLA — which describes itself as “a grass-roots organization engaged in coalition building efforts and a citywide dialogue” — said it would like to put a clinical and mental health research center, a long-term psychiatric and substance abuse in-patient facility, low-income housing and holistic healing programs at the site.
Matthews Southwest President Jack Matthews declined Thursday to provide specifics about the firm’s proposal, but he said it is pitching a redevelopment similar to one the company did of a century-old, 1.1 million-square-foot building in Dallas. The South Side on Lamar project converted an old Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue Merchandise Center into residential lofts, artists’ lofts, and office, commercial and retail space.
The proposal from the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative, which bills itself as a real estate development and project finance consultant to state governments, doesn’t actually propose a project for the Charity site. It is offering itself to the state as a partner that would provide “pre-development” assistance, including, for example, an analysis of the best economic uses of the former hospital.
Telephone calls to CHR Partners went unanswered Thursday.
The state’s Office of Facility Planning and Control has begun reviewing and evaluating the written responses and will decide when and how to follow up with those entities “whose responses are determined to be most responsive to the state’s specified objectives,” Division of Administration spokesman Greg Dupuis said in an email.
A market study by the consulting arm of Pasadena, California-based Jacobs Engineering Group, included in the state solicitation, identified government, biomedicine and housing as primary possible new uses for the property. The solicitation said a mix of uses would be a “sustainable option.”
The state ultimately could decide to sell the property or to enter into a long-term cooperative endeavor agreement for a public-private partnership.
The state has not provided an estimated value for the buildings. The winning proposal likely would be eligible for state and federal tax credits available for the restoration of historic buildings.
The state issued a request for ideas on how to develop the 76-year-old art deco structure in April after it became clear that New Orleans officials no longer had an interest in turning the massive building into a municipal government complex, as Mayor Mitch Landrieu formerly proposed.
The city had been the state’s first choice to acquire and redevelop the hospital. Landrieu’s $400 million plan would have moved City Hall and Civil District Court into the former hospital.
But the city could not come up with the money to buy the building, in part because the project was opposed by the court’s judges. The judges — including Michael Bagneris, who left the bench to launch an unsuccessful run to unseat Landrieu last year — were to be a critical part of the city’s financing plan for the project. The Legislature also declined the city’s request for money to renovate the structure.
The building has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina, when the basement flooded, though the rest of the 20-story structure remained largely intact. It was replaced temporarily by the nearby Interim LSU Hospital, which itself will be replaced next month by the University Medical Center in Mid-City.
The request for redevelopment ideas covered five properties. In addition to the 999,750-square-foot Charity Hospital building at 1532 Tulane Ave., the request covered a 15,574-square-foot office building at 1508 Gravier St.; a 12,312-square-foot structure, last used as a maintenance shop, at 433-435 La Salle St.; the 15,665-square-foot former Delgado building, last used as a primary care facility, at 1545 Tulane Ave.; and the 22,651-square-foot Butterworth building, last used as office space for health care services, at 1541 Tulane.
A tentative timeline included with the April solicitation for ideas said the Jindal administration hoped to select a developer in late July and finalize an agreement by the fall.