Land Use
 

Hurricane Isaac destroys house moved to build new VA hospital

One of the houses moved out of the way of the new VA hospital in Lower Mid-City has met a similar fate as it would’ve if it had remained: destroyed not by bulldozers, but by Hurricane Isaac.

In November 2010, the classic shotgun double was moved from S. Miro St. in the Tulane/Gravier neighborhood 10 blocks away, to the 1900 block of Bienville St.

The house on the left collapsed due to Hurricane Isaac; the house on the right has also been slated for demolition due to damage from the storm. (Karen Gadbois)

Aside from a new roof, the house remained in disrepair for nearly two years while a community nonprofit waited for city funds to renovate it. Instead, the house collapsed from Hurricane Isaac’s punishing winds and rain.

The house is only one of 71 moved out of the footprint for the VA and LSU hospitals. The houses were given to various nonprofits who were tasked with the renovation process.

The now-collapsed house at its original location on S. Miro St. (Preservation Resource Center)

Three of the relocated houses, including the house next door, were “substantially damaged by the storm and are now slated for demolition,” Mitch Landrieu administration spokesman Ryan Berni said in an email. The third, once located on Palmyra St., is located on the 1700 block of N. Villere.

The houses were delivered without roofs and often shorn of the backs in order to save money and navigate them through the neighborhood. Even before the shotgun was moved from S. Miro St., holes had been punched in the facade and side wall, according to the blog “Inside the Footprint.”

The city reached out to local nonprofits to find places for the homes in the path of the new hospital.

“We had the land and they were looking for places to move these houses,” said Sister Vera Butler, who works with the Tulane/Canal Neighborhood Development Corporation, formed to increase homeownership in the area.

The houses arrived in a “frail” state, Butler said. The city had told the nonprofit that it would find money to help renovate the houses, but “that hasn’t happened.”

Berni went on to say that the city will soon seek proposals to renovate the houses, using money once allocated for Builders of Hope, the nonprofit that moved the houses.

A large number of properties relocated to the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood are still vulnerable to the elements, arsonists and criminals.

The city was criticized by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in August 2011 for how it handled the house-moving project. Reid Nelson, director of the Office of Federal Agency Programs, wrote that the homes, “whose removal from the Medical Center Site was intended to preserve them, are now lying unused and open to the elements, deteriorating by neglect and creating health and safety hazards to the residents.”

Another house that was moved as part of the same effort, now located on Dumaine St. in Treme, may be demolished due to its current condition. The proposal has not yet come before the Historic District Landmarks Commission.

Watch Fox 8’s story on the collapsed house

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