LC Hotel Group gets extension, but with stringent requirements

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach did his best to convince the city council why they should allow the Lake Charles Hotel Group to have more time to secure funding for a four-story hotel at downtown's most attractive property.

"This is an opportunity that we have it's not an 'if' it's a true opportunity and I think it's worthy of our consideration," said Mayor Roach. "This is not an indefinite extension of time."

Financing was a problem two months ago. The group is now asking for their second extension. They say they'll be able to secure the money through stimulus bonds. Bond counselor Jay Delafield says hotel projects with public funds are the single most difficult to finance - second only to golf courses.

"This is a complex transaction, it has a lot of moving parts, it requires a lot of public approval, requires lots of public oversight," said Delafield.

To get the money, the Lake Charles Hotel Group must get the approval of several boards: including the Public Trust Authority, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Bond Commission. One of the most stringent requirements - proof they have the credit to fund the project: 60% debt to 40% equity.

Their timeline a series of public meetings:

February 10th: Approval of the Public Trust Authority

March 18th: Bond Commission for Preliminary Approval

- The Public Trust Authority will then have a public forum for anyone who opposes the project being financed by public funds.

April 22nd: Goes before Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

May 20th: Final approval by Bond Commission

"If at any point in this time this process, someone at a public agency stops the process, the deal that you guys have with these developers is dead at that point," explained Delafield.

Some are concerned more delays will keep the property off the market for others who are interested.

"If somebody comes along and says I want to develop this property, I hate to say well, we've got a shot in the dark - that's holding you back," said Councilman Marshall Simien.

But the council was also reminded that the Lake Charles Hotel Group acted in good faith - not only extending the city's requested deadlines due to environmental concerns, but helped pay for the cleanup. They say it's only fair to give them one last chance.

"By executing this extension, we are saying as long as you meet this timeline, and as long as you get these approvals to secure this financing, then we will sell the property as we originally contracted to do," said Mayor Roach.

So let the clock begin, the council approves the extension under the above requirements.

Just a note: both the old Hilton Hotel and the new Holiday Inn on Lake Street were financed through this process.

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