Downtown hotel deal falls through

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's not what the Downtown Development Authority wanted to hear, but a downtown hotel at old Sears site has been scrapped. Even though they had another three months to get the funding needed, the Lake Charles Hotel Group says the writing was on the wall. However when the current economic climate clears they say they're still interested in doing business in Lake Charles.

"They interested in doing something on that site or on the Lakefront and that's one of the reasons they wanted to make sure that they did what was in the best interest for the City of Lake Charles," said Billy Loftin, Lake Charles City Attorney.

In comes plan B - the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is now calling dibs on the Old Sears property. But it's highly unlikely they'll need the entire two and a half acres.

"We are going to have to meet with their architects, look at their design, their requirements for parking and other aspects of the project and then make a determination of how much they need... And how much would be available for development by another developer," explained Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

Speaking of developers: The DDA has released the names of the three developers looking to build on track 1a - south of the Civic Center: in no particular order they are:

- Atlanta based - GWL Construction (the same developer responsible for the Muller's Project)

- The Cypress Group out of Baton Rouge

- DeVere/Swepco/Watco out of Houston.

"They are all aiming for what is called mixed-use which is a combination of residential and commercial," said DDA President Adley Cormier.

To sweeten the deal, this past Friday one of the three developers made a proposal for a hotel on track 1B and 1C - property directly behind the Civic Center between Bord Du Lac Drive. Due to confidentiality agreements it's still not clear which developer aims to build the hotel, but it too isn't a done deal. Just as they did with track 1A - the city is also sunsetting the property for 30 days giving some 200 potential developers the opportunity to submit their plans.

"We want the process to remain open and transparent and get the most out of each project," said Cormier. "We want all of the land to be able to have high value and have great use. And to have opportunities for businesses, residences, restaurants commercial... We want that to be able to find a home in downtown Lake Charles."

Meanwhile negotiations for track 1A are still ongoing, with the DDA expected to make a recommendation to the City Council on March 8th.

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