VA Hospital Close to Taking Shape in Mid-City

4 February 2013

The framework of the new Veterans Affairs Hospital is materializing in Mid-City. Construction of the Pan Am building is on track to complete in early 2014 with the rest of the health complex openings its doors in phases by 2016.

New Orleans City Business

VA Hospital Close to Taking Shape in Mid-City

New Orleans City Business

5 February 2013

By: Gary Boulard, Contributing Writer

With more than 80 percent of the foundation pilings driven, the framework of the $995 million Veterans Affairs Hospital is expected to come soon at the campus Tulane Avenue and South Rocheblave, Canal and South Galvez streets border.

“We’re very excited about where we are right now,” said Mike Brideweser, VA project director of the 30-acre site that is also known as Project Legacy.

The work also includes the renovation and upgrade of the former Pan-American Life Insurance Building at 2400 Canal St., which will serve as the medical center’s administrative office.

“We are about half done with the work on that particular building,” said Steve Maslen, general contractor for Clark McCarthy Healthcare Partners, the joint venture building Project Legacy.

The facility will provide inpatient, outpatient, transitional living and rehabilitation, among other services for more than 70,000 regional veterans. Although the project has been described as “big,” comprising 1.6 million square feet, it has often been the smaller things that have defined the building of Project Legacy.

One example is the transplanted Banks Street shotgun houses that are destined for new locations on South Rocheblave, where they will be used as transitional living residences for the center.

“Re-using those historic houses maintains some of the integrity of the neighborhood,” said Karen Collins, public affairs specialist with the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.

There are also trees that once shaded large sections of the site. Brideweser said construction crews tried to save as many as possible, placing protective wrapping around their trunks and fencing them off to keep truck traffic off their roots.

Site plans also call for the center’s main big buildings to be pulled back from South Rocheblave.

“The idea is that they didn’t want these large structures overwhelming the neighborhood,” Maslen said. “By setting the buildings back a little, it helps maintain a more residential feel.”

Some of this attention to nuance has been shaped by comments area neighborhoods and residents voiced during a series of public meetings on Project Legacy.

“We’ve wanted to be good neighbors with this project, both during construction and after,” Collins said.

Target dates for construction include the opening of the Pan Am Building in early 2014 and the staggered openings of the central energy plant, parking garage, diagnostic and treatment facilities, and finally the inpatient and outpatient facilities leading into early 2016.

Included in the construction will be a gymnasium, swimming pool, gardens, courtyards and walking paths.

Project Legacy will share services with the nearby University Medical Center and will be affiliated with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Tulane University School of Medicine.

Veterans Affairs Hospital

Project description: Military veteran acute care facility
Project cost: $995 million
Start date: May 2010
Expected completion date: early 2016
Peak construction employment: more than 2,000
Owner/developer: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Project manager: Mark Brideweser, VA Office of Construction and Facilities Management
General contractor: Clark McCarthy Healthcare Partners; Landis Construction Co.; Woodward Design + Build
Subcontractors: Alack Refrigeration, Allied Construction, BFM Corp., BMG Enterprises, Coastal Fire Protection

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