BioDistrict Issue Heats Up

SaveCharityHospital has always taken a keen interest in GNOBEDD, also known as BioDistrict New Orleans.  The BioDistrict includes the existing Charity Hospital building and the proposed replacement UMC site.  The district, created pre-Katrina, is intimately entwined with all of the issues that concern us.

Just yesterday, for example, Jim McNamara, the head of the BioDistrict, spoke in favor of the revocation of the streets in the UMC Footprint at a City Planning Commission hearing (see clip at 2 hours and 11 minutes) - despite the lack of funding, lack of a business plan, etc.  Opponents of the revocation were also onhand to speak against the push to take the streets.

Interestingly, the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization (MCNO) recently took an official public stance against the BioDistrict.  This is quite significant, as the MCNO area occupies a sizable portion of the BioDistrict's 1,500-acre "campus" that sprawls across the heart of New Orleans.  Besides input provided to State Senator Karen Carter Peterson (author of the BioDistrict legislation) and issues raised on an ad hoc basis by Mid-City and Gert Town residents, this is also the first time a neighborhood organization has stood up to the BioDistrict in a formal way. 

Here are some of the concerns raised:

- We do not want to lose existing one-and two-unit housing stock in the district.

- We do not want to jeopardize the architectural fabric of Mid-City.

- We do not want zoning and street grid decisions to be determined by a state entity outside oflocal control.

- We do not have a clear statement from the BioDistrict on the specific effects they would have onhomeowners and property owners in the district.

- We lack reliable assurance that the BioDistrict, alone or in partnership with the state, will not expropriate property in the BioDistrict.

Will any local media outlet actually cover this controversy?  To date, we have not seen a single media outlet pick up on the long-simmering discontent about the BioDistrict.  It's really quite strange.  Residents who are in the know have been vocally opposing aspects of the BioDistrict since about September during all of its planning meetings - where attendance, sadly, was slim.  Outreach to the affected communities was inadequate.

Tomorrow, the Board that oversees GNOBEDD/BioDistrict New Orleans will hold its quarterly commissioners' meeting.  The meetings are open to the public (it's a state-created entity), and tomorrow's meeting is at noon at 134 LaSalle Street in the CBD.  Please feel free to attend, inform yourself, and voice any concerns.

This affects anyone living in New Orleans - whether you're in the boundaries of the district or not.

PublicApril2011BoardAgenda.pdf234.1 KB