Demolition of the abandoned LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center in north Baton Rouge is on track for early 2015.

The state Office of Facility Planning and Control received bids late Wednesday from seven companies seeking the business.

The contract is scheduled to be awarded in December and work should begin soon after the first of the year, Facility Planning Director Mark Moses said.

Moses said asbestos needs to be removed before the demolition of the Airline Highway landmark can take place.

“You might not see much at first because much (of the work) will be interior to the building,” Moses said. “We expect to be inside for several months before they start demolishing the building.”

The lowest base bid of $1.8 million was submitted by ARC Abatement I Ltd., of Baton Rouge. The next lowest bid came from Insulation Technologies Inc., based in Milwaukee, at $2.18 million, followed by Virginia Wrecking Company Inc., of Alabama, $2.36 million. The highest base bid, $4.87 million, was submitted by California-based Northstar Demolition and Remediation.

The project designer had estimated costs at close to $2 million. The state capital construction budget approved this year includes $2 million for the project.

Moses said the bids have been taken under advisement. Officials will be looking at pricing as well as whether they are responsive to the bid specifications.

The LSU charity hospital has been vacant since April 2013 when inpatient operations and medical education activities housed there moved to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center off Essen Lane in south Baton Rouge. The hospital became a casualty of the Jindal administration’s privatization of the LSU hospital system.

Known as “the Earl,” the hospital opened its doors to its first patient in March 1968 and provided care for the poor and uninsured for 45 years.

Both hospital and medical education programs had been running into problems with accreditation by national groups because of the antiquated building.

State Sen. Sharon Broome and state Rep. Regina Barrow have expressed concerns about the abandoned structure becoming an eyesore and a haven for criminal activity. The state has continued to provide security on the property.

Broome won legislative and governor’s approval for transfer of the property to the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority for redevelopment. What kind of development will occupy the 13-acre tract on which the hospital sits has not yet been determined. Broome suggested a mixed-use development with commercial and residential components.

“Sen. Broome and I have talked about having a series of meetings after the first of the year to talk to constituents about what they would like to see there,” Barrow said. “We did not want to be premature. They have had some hiccups along the way with the demolition project,” including issues related to asbestos removal. She said the project is about six months behind the original schedule.

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