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In Charity Hospital redevelopment, Tulane University signs long-term lease for mixed-use site

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Charity Hospital in New Orleans on June 11, 2014.

Tulane University announced Monday that it signed a long-term lease to redevelop a chunk of Charity Hospital, which has sat vacant since Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.

In a press release, the University said they plan to convert over one-third of the 1 million-square-foot Tulane Avenue building into a mixed-use complex featuring apartments and retail, along with educational and research facilities for the school. The school and the project’s developers said they hope the renewal of the landmark would spur future development throughout the downtown area.

The development will cost around $300 million, according to the Times-Picayune. 

“The American landscape is filled with cities that have been transformed to become leaders of the 21st-century economy thanks to the presence of a major research university in the center of their downtown commercial district,” Tulane President Michael Fitts said. “This is the shared future of New Orleans and Tulane.”

The school said that the project will be a “central component of Tulane’s downtown campus in the heart of the city’s biomedical corridor.”

Tulane, Delgado Community College and LSU have expanded their medical campuses downtown, creating the biomedical corridor. Tulane said their external funding for research almost doubled over the past four years and expects to continue that growth pattern over the next few years.

The project, the school said, will hopefully bring even more labs and scientists together into the area. This way, discoveries can get to “market faster, launch spinout companies, support community startup talent and attract outside investment designed to transform New Orleans into a hub of bioscience research.”

The school has partnered with developers 1532 Tulane Partners, Inc. and SKK Opportunity Zone Fund I, LLC for the project, in which they plan to have occupants in the building by 2025.

The 20-story art deco building opened its doors in 1939 with a capacity of 2,680 beds, making it the largest hospital in the state. The hospital experienced severe flooding damage after Hurricane Katrina and remained shuttered, a decision made by then Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The hospital's services then moved to the much smaller University Medical Center less than five blocks away on Tulane Avenue.

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