Massive biomedical complex taking shape quickly in Mid-City

All across the enormous Mid-City construction site between Canal Street and Tulane Avenue, crews are hard at work building what many believe will be a game-changer for the city.

In some ways, the massive biomedical complex is already giving the area around it a boost.

“Right now, it’s definitely bringing business,” said Lee Pillaro, General Manager at Pizzicare, a pizza restaurant on Tulane. “Construction guys doing heavy work, they work up a big appetite. We see them every day, and we sell a lot of pizza to those guys.”

looking at the much bigger picture, the expected impact – once the University and VA hospitals are completed – is huge.

“Biggest single economic opportunity that we have in the region,” said GNO Inc. President Michael Hecht.

“Both of them can drive destination health care. That means people coming here to New Orleans to seek medical treatment. To understand how important that is, you’ve got to look at Houston. In Houston, the Texas Medical Center is responsible for one out of every four people at a Houston hotel.”

It’s a reason Hecht says it’s so exciting to see the rapid transformation unfolding.

In a little more than a year, several large, modern buildings have risen across the site, and the feverish work continues. The ripple effect for the surrounding neighborhoods has already begun.

“You can drive right up Tulane and see it. You see all the apartments, all the condos, you can see some of the turnover in the retail,” Hecht said. “So, you’re going to literally have everybody from laundromats to brain surgeons coming here because of this medical center. They’re going to spend their dollars at restaurants at retail, buying homes.”

Pillaro says it’s refreshing to witness firsthand the positive changes taking shape.

“(This) was once the heart of the city, you know. Everything went down on Tulane. I’m really glad to see it coming back up,” he said.

The University Medical Center is expected to open sometime next year, while the VA Hospital is slated to come online in 2016.

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