- Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Officials say the state is likely to delay any decision on the fate of the Charity Hospital building in favor of hiring a consultant to take a new look at how to move forward.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration sought ideas last year for what to do with the 1-million-square-foot facility, which was closed in 2005 after it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Advocate (https://bit.ly/1UCDvvo ) reported. Suggestions ranged from a mental health facility to retail stores.

State Rep. Helena Moreno, who was part of a committee tasked with reviewing the proposals, says a key issue that remains undecided is whether the state should lease the property or sell it. She says hiring a consultant is necessary for the committee to make an informed decision.

“Being that (Charity Hospital) is such an important piece of property in the city, we owe the public the due diligence to really research each one of these proposals to make sure that they really are the best for the city and for the state,” Moreno said.

She says she’s optimistic a consultant could be hired by next month and a new request for proposals released by March.

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards, who will be inaugurated Monday, has not decided how to proceed with the facility, according to his spokeswoman, Julie Baxter Payer.

Interested developers have had mixed reactions to news of the delay.

Michael Brandner of CHR Partners LLC criticized the delay, saying his group was ready to buy Charity for $30 million and spend $245 million renovating it into apartments, a hotel, a biomedical facility and retail stores.

However, Josh Collen of Historic Restoration Inc., which has proposed spending $194 million to revamp the hospital into an apartment complex, artist lofts, a day care center, retail stores and a medical research facility, said restarting the process makes sense.


Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, https://www.neworleansadvocate.com

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