For residents of Mid-City, the cleanup that began recently at the long-vacant Lindy Boggs Medical Center can't happen fast enough.

From thieves and squatters to rodents and mosquitoes, hazards at the site have created headaches for everyone in the area around Jefferson Davis Parkway and the southern end of Bayou St. John.

But while residents are pleased that an environmental cleanup of the four-story building has begun, they remain largely in the dark about what will happen next at the site.

"That's the question on everyone's lips, and it's not being answered," said Emily Leitzinger, president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, who termed the site "a giant mess."

She said the building's owners, MCC Real Estate and St. Margaret's Daughters, have met with residents of the neighborhood to discuss the site, but little information has surfaced about the building's likely future.

Vacant since it was flooded after Hurricane Katrina, Lindy Boggs Medical Center deteriorated as its owners debated its fate. St. Margaret's Daughters, which bought the building in 2010, partnered with MCC Group, whose real estate arm has developed numerous properties around the city, and the talk initially was that the site might reopen as a hospital.

But as plans began to gel for a big new University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs hospital nearby, it was not clear that another hospital would be needed. 

Meanwhile, the cleanup of the Lindy Boggs site faced delays. The presence of asbestos in the aging building meant that the owners would have to comply with federal environmental regulations in removing it, necessitating a costly remediation. As the owners sought funding to help with the cleanup, they also became involved in a long internal legal fight over cost issues.

Neighbors of the vacant medical center became increasingly agitated over conditions at the property, where broken windows allowed both human and animal intruders to enter and rainwater collected in large stagnant pools around the building's foundation.

Eventually, MCC and St. Margaret's settled their legal differences, and earlier this month they finally launched the cleanup.

Rebecca Otte of the Regional Planning Commission said that MCC and St. Margaret's received $1.1 million in a combination of grants and loans for the cleanup, and now they are in a race to meet a deadline.

One of the grants requires that the work be completed by Sept. 30. Otte said neither she nor the owners know whether the deadline can be met, though the work is proceeding as fast as possible. 

Peter Aamodt, a spokesman for MCC, said that in addition to the environmental cleanup, "some demolition" is being done inside the building. "We're just removing all the contents," he said.

Aamodt said the owners are in a "preliminary evaluation process to determine" the next use for the building. "We're looking at all possible options to see what makes the most sense for the neighborhood," he said.

He would not say what options the owners are considering, but he said they will continue to meet with neighborhood groups about the site's future.

A spokesman for St. Margaret's Daughters did not return a call requesting comment.

Both Aamodt and Otte attended the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization's last monthly meeting, and Leitzinger said the 45 or so residents on hand had many questions about what comes next.

"Neighbors are frustrated because, still, this abandoned building continues to get vandalized," she said.

Leitzinger said that Aamodt seemed to hint that the building might be redeveloped for a medical use, noting that St. Margaret's now operates a nursing home in a small building behind the former medical center and that other health facilities have sprouted as Mid-City has become a hub of medical care.

"Some kind of medical resource there would seem to make the most sense," Leitzinger said. But she added, "We understand that a developer doesn't want to open something there just to have it close in a few years."

She noted that neighbors are already concerned that a new offsite emergency room built for Ochsner Clinic Foundation at Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue has stood empty since being completed earlier this year.

The future of the emergency center has been unclear since Ochsner ended its relationship with its planned operating partner, Adeptus Health Inc., in April.

A spokeswoman for Ochsner could not immediately provide an update on plans for the center.