LC Hotel Group to ask for extension on Sears property

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's been more than a year since the old Sears building was reduced to a pile of rubble. The property has since sat vacant waiting for a proposed four story Hampton Suites - complete with 103 rooms, retail space and residential condominiums to take shape.

Jim Haidet with the Lake Charles Hotel Group told 7 News back in September, "Wee 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."

Back in September the Lake Charles Hotel Group was given 60 days to come up with the financing for the 10.3 million dollar project, but that deadline has come and gone.

"Financing is still an issue and they have been working on a financing plan but because of the economy and because of the limitations of hotel financing they've had difficulty in doing that," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

Mayor Roach says the group has indicated they may be able to get some special bond financing, but the City Council has questions. To get more time the group must come before the council and explain their next game plan.

"Before we grant any additional time we want to make sure that there is a realistic possibility that this project can be funded. If not we need to move on and need to consider other options as far as development of the property is concerned," said Mayor Roach.

Lots of interest has been expressed in this prime piece of real estate, including the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. "They have indicated an interest of utilizing that property to relocate a new building for the Third Circuit. There has been other interest expressed as far as what we can do with that property. Both the hotel concept, other people have talked about that, but as far as a specific project... We don't have a specific hotel developer that is waiting on the sidelines so to speak," said Mayor Roach.

A number of things could happen, but Mayor Roach says it's premature at this point to really speculate. The Lake Charles Hotel Group is expected to make a presentation before the council and ask for another extension at the next regular meeting on January 6th.

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