David Callecod, president of parent company Lafayette General Health, tells The Independent/ABiz that the hospital group has yet to reach a feasibility level for making the project financially viable.
“Right now we are still on hold with the project,” he says. “With the number of residents that we have, we have been working to make it financially feasible for us to house them there versus in apartment complexes across the city, and we really haven’t gotten to the point where economically it makes sense for us. We’re hoping that with additional residents that we’re going to have in the future, that we’re going to be able to pull the trigger on the project. But right now it’s on hold.”
LGMC/UHC currently has 86 resident physicians between the two campuses; Callecod says the hospital group needs to have somewhere between 150 and 200 to make the apartment complex financially feasible. But Lafayette General Health, he says, remains committed to the project.
“One of the good things about becoming a bigger teaching hospital at both campuses is that we as an organization have had an opportunity to learn a lot about residency programs and GME — graduate medical education — and Lafayette General has continued to maintain our ability to start our own residency programs in the future,” Callecod notes. “We’ve been working with a consulting company that is helping us prepare to start our own residency programs in the future in conjunction with and certainly with the support of LSU. However, they would be our own residents.”
The property at the corner of Girard Park Drive and Hospital Drive was formerly owned by Lafayette attorney Jimmy Davidson, whose more than decade-long battle with neighbors over his attempts to convert the leafy residential property into a commercial development was the stuff of headlines for years. (Davidson, you may recall, was part of the failed deal a decade ago with then-UL President Ray Authement to swap the Girard Park property with UL for a portion of the Horse Farm — with the goal of converting that Horse Farm acreage into a commercial development — that led to the Save the Horse Farm group and, ultimately, the central park that is being developed there.)
After initial resistance from Girard Park residents to LGMC’s plans — no doubt a once-bitten-twice-shy reaction following years of acrimony with Davidson over the site — neighbors agreed two years ago to allow the Dwight Andrus Co. to purchase the land and move ahead with the development. Those plans, Callecod says, remain in place.
“I don’t think it’s going to be within the next 12 months,” he acknowledges, “but certainly we hope within the next 24 months we’ll be in a position to pull the trigger and start those programs.”
Read ABiz’s original story on the project here.