Council moves on two developments & renovations

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - New chairs, new lights and new wallpaper - just a few recommended upgrades for the Lake Charles City Council chambers.

"And if it's possible to remove that back wall and replace it with glass and with speakers on the outside hallway in the event we are over capacity in here and we have people standing on the outside - they will be able to hear what's going on as far as council action," explained Councilman Rodney Geyen.

The renovations are budgeted for $300,000. "I agree we need to make some changes here, but I'm certainly not in favor of spending $300,000 on this room," said Councilman Stuart Weatherford.

"We feel it's not even going to come close to that. So we know that is what has been budgeted, but we are not anticipating on spending that kind of money," said Geyen.

"First we need to worry about design, let's look at design first and then from there we can take away or add," said Councilwoman Luvertha August. "But as far as I see it the people who come in here - we should give them the same respect we give our visitors in our homes. This city is the city's living room... The way I see it."

The council agreed on consulting an architect on the proposed changes.

Next up what to do with the old Harrah's property, now owned by Pinnacle Entertainment. The council heard reasons why they should enter into a non-binding contract with Pinnacle regarding transfer of the hotel and property.

"This is where the lakefront harbor is going to be. And it's important that we at least be in a position to at least get control of that area along the lake - at least that 40 to 50 foot strip along the lake," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

The council unanimously approved entering into the agreement and hiring an engineer to inspect the condition of the property.

And it was this time last year the last of the old Sear's building was coming down. Since then the site has been cleaned of contamination. So what's taking so long for the new hotel to take shape?

"The project is going to require that we have some private investors," explained City Attorney Billy Loftin.

The development would make way for a four story Hampton Inn Suites with 103 rooms, retail space and residential condominiums at a price tag of 10.3 million dollars. The Lake Charles Hotel Group has the required 20 percent cost and has been talking with local businesses and lenders to put up the rest.

"We feel very strongly about the project that we've had updated feasibility studies and the market is very good - the project is very strong. We're excited about moving forward with this," said developer Jim Haidet.

And they will move forward - the council agreed to give them a 60 day extension to secure the funding. Haidet says they anticipate breaking ground before the end of the year.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the City announced it has hired Russ Adams as the new planning and development director.

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