- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State officials lack long-term plans for hospital buildings closing as part of the transformation of Louisiana’s charity hospital system.

The Advocate (bit.ly/V2qanW ) reports the state plans to demolish the main building of the Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge, transferring the property to the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority for development. The housing authority, though, isn’t sure what it will do with the complex. State officials say they’re looking for a plan for soon-to-close Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville. And Charity Hospital in New Orleans still holds furniture from its evacuation in August 2005 due to flooding from Hurricane Katrina.

In New Orleans, The state must market reuse of Charity for three years in an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The state hopes in July to seek a firm to clean out the 1 million square-foot complex, said Louisiana State University system facilities project administrator Jerry Jones. The state is spending $3 million a year to secure and maintain Charity.

A few weeks ago, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu abandoned a plan to relocate city hall, some courts and other local agencies in the building, saying estimates had grown too expensive.

“It’s a state building that is a state responsibility,” Landrieu said. “I hope the state finds something really useful to do with it that is part and parcel of what the future economic development is for the city.”

A marketing strategy has not yet been determined said Meghan Parrish, communications director of the Division of Administration. Administration officials refused to answer when the three-year marketing period started. Historic Foundation of Louisiana board member Sandra Stokes said the state didn’t market Charity while it waited on the city hall project.

In Baton Rouge, Twentieth Century Fox is filming scenes for its “Fantastic Four” movie sequel at Earl K. Long. Once filming is finished, the state plans to move toward tearing down the main building. Another 13 structures of varying sizes will remain on the property. The property won’t be transferred to the housing authority until after demolition.

A group of local officials are considering prospects for the 13-acre site, said state Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, focusing on mixed-use development.

LSU’s Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville closes June 30. Some activity will remain, including a medical clinic and a morgue in an out-building. Locating a women’s crisis center in another building has also been discussed. But no plans are in place for the 1930s-era primary hospital building.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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