DDA Update: 2010 & 2011 big year for projects

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Downtown Development Authority plans to solicit proposals from potential developers for about another 30 days before sunsetting the projects and eventually making a recommendation to the Lake Charles City Council. While the details of the process are still secret, you don't have to look far to see other progress underway. Progress that's being funded partly due to found money.

What started out as 18-million dollars from the 90-million dollar bond proposition, has over time turned into 32-million dollars worth of capital outlay projects and lakefront development. As City Finance Director Karen Harrell explains, it's money that was matched through grants and other pots as well as interest earnings.

"We worked and worked and came up with the funding source for those projects," said Harrell. "We know that we can't spend all of this money in the fiscal year 2010 that ends September 30th, so we are looking ahead at next year's budget."

2010 thru 2011 is going to be critical. As the lakefront transforms into what city officials describe as a world-class destination. While a lot of ground work has been done, the most noticeable changes are the lakefront promenade and the marina. Rain has delayed the progress of the promenade, but the marina is completely finished, however it won't open until August.

"Until the promenade can actually open and handle pedestrians across the construction zone the marina will have to stay quiet. Both projects are expected to open in August," said DDA Director Lori Marinovich.

Also on the northern most landing of the promenade - the city has plans for an interactive fountain sculpture.

"It will be a wonderful city amenity. It's also going to be interactive - children will be able to actually touch the sculpture. It's not a hands off sort of thing," explained DDA President Adley Cormier.

Just around the corner are 11-million dollars worth of improvements to Bord du Lac Park and the amphitheater. Those projects go out for bid in May, as does the long over due facelift to downtown's Ryan Street Streetscape.

"It's very exciting to see what it's going to do in that area, it's going to be absolutely beautiful. It's going to be pedestrian friendly. It's going to create an environment where you want to stay and go and visit. You're in for quiet a great present I would say," said DDA Member GiGi Kaufman.

You be asking: what about all of the restaurants, shops and commercial development? - All of this work is setting up the property for developers to finish the job. Again, three developers have already submitted solid proposals to the DDA. Meanwhile the deadline for others to submit proposals for review is February 26th.

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