Construction budget funds razing of EKL

The state construction budget includes $1 million for demolition of LSU-vacated Earl K. Long Medical Center on Airline Highway in north Baton Rouge.

State Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, slipped language in the construction program legislation that specifically directs $1 million from $5 million already earmarked for an abandoned LSU project to the razing of the building.

The Jindal administration is on board with the move, pokesman Michael DiResto said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Thursday signed legislation allowing the LSU hospital property to be transferred to the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority as part of redevelopment efforts.

The Earl K. Long facility closed April 15 when inpatient care and LSU medical education programs moved to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

A specific time has not been decided on building demolition and property clearance.

“I’d like to get it done the sooner the better,” Broome said.

“We need to move forward and not leave a building there that could be a liability,” Broome said. She said taxpayers are having to pay for security to watch over the hospital and other buildings on the tract.

“Certainly LSU has an interest in what happens so I’m going to work with them and also through the administration just to follow up,” she said.

Broome said a group of local elected officials, community leaders and non-profit organization representatives will start meeting the next two weeks to start looking at long-term prospects for the property’s use.

“We are certainly not letting it linger,” Broome said.

Earl K. Long is located on a 13-acre tract on a major corridor through the parish. There are 14 structures on the property, among them the main hospital, a medicine clinic, sub-specialty clinic, the Mental Health Emergency Room Extension, an emergency medical resident education building, a medical library and administration building.

The Louisiana Legislature signed off on the land transfer to the Housing Authority as it shipped Senate Bill 154 to Jindal to be signed into law. The provision was added into a bill that provided for a cooperative endeavor agreement involving land for a new Civil District Courthouse in New Orleans. The agreement involves the state allowing the old Louisiana Supreme Court site and the former state office building site located at 325 Loyola Ave., in New Orleans, to be used for the court site.

The transfer of the land to the housing authority would prevent it from being sold as surplus property and give the community time to come up with a development plan.

The vision for the property involves a mixed use development similar to Towne Center, off Jefferson Highway and Corporate Boulevard, she said.

The legislation directs the LSU Board of Supervisors and the commissioner of administration to transfer the property to the EBR Housing Authority “in exchange for consideration proportionate to the appraised value of the property.”

The authority has already built housing behind the hospital property.