Tensions ran high at the first public meeting about the Spirit of Charity Innovation District hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. While the meeting was called so members of the public could comment on the revitalization of the area around the long-abandoned hospital, locals couldn’t help but bring up their concerns about the hospital revitalization itself.
Many attendees found it challenging to discuss what was going to be put around Charity Hospital while the hospital itself remains such a large question mark.
“Folks are really feeling it’s difficult to plan a district around an asset as big as Charity Hospital without knowing what it’s going to be used for,” said one community member, Janet Hays, according to The Advocate.
The Greater New Orleans Foundation staff were apparently caught flat-footed by the reaction from the audience, who largely wanted to voice their concerns about Charity Hospital and not the district around which the meeting was called.
“We don’t have authority over anything,” GNO President Andy Kopplin said. “We don’t own the building. We’re not the city. We’re not the state. We’re not LSU.”
LSU is in the process of revitalizing the hospital. They shared the initial pitches, one day after the meeting that technically wasn’t about them. The full proposals aren’t due until August 20, a full 10 days after a second meeting to discuss the planned “job creation engine” around the currently empty building.