Cypress Group unveils Lakefront design/concept proposal

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's referred to as Tract 1A - the property just south of the Lake Charles Civic Center - and according to city officials is the first step in developing what will drive the future of the lakefront.

"I'm extremely excited - all of us are - to have the opportunity to present to you the vision for the lakefront development, for this project in particular we are referring to as Lakeside," said Chris Rinaudo with Cypress Group.

The Cypress Group went before the City Council Tuesday night to give a formal presentation of what they propose to do with the land. To create their vision they walked the streets of Lake Charles - conducting what they call a DNA study of the architecture. They also spoke with residents at a meeting earlier this month to get outside input of what locals liked and wanted to see. Keeping in mind the location's connection to downtown, the new marina and waterfront, amphitheater and park - they came up with a four story urban mixed-use design.

"We've taken all these parts and these pieces and we've started to put them together and stir them up and create something here that we think is unique for Lake Charles and the whole part of this is to create something that is authentic," said Michael Sullivan, architect for the project.

Taking up nearly two and half city blocks - a birds eye view gives some perspective of the layout. Sullivan explains the use of retail, commercial and residential space.

"The purple area is for retail/commercial. The darker orange is all residential. The lighter orange is what we are calling flex. And that is basically a combination of live-work, and flex space that can either be residential," explained Sullivan.

Everything from the second floor and above is living space - 212 residential units - including 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms. There's also a 450 car public and private garage - hidden from view.

"The garage is basically enclosed or camouflaged with the idea this building of living units around it," said Sullivan.

The total price tag is 25-to-30 million dollars, 18-to-22 million dollars in construction alone. While the council was impressed, concerns were raised if the Cypress Group could deliver.

"I just don't want people to get... Sugar Cane Bay - people got taken to the alter and then found out the bride/groom was giving the license back to the state. So I just don't want to get through those issues again," said Councilman Marshall Simien, Jr.

At issue going into a lease agreement for the property before securing the Cypress Group secures the funding and application with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - a process that could take up to ten months, but according to Mayor Randy Roach we should have an idea within 60-to-90 days.

"If they get the invitation from HUD to proceed with their loan and actually to make application then that's a pretty good indication that they've got a viable project and that it is a go," said Mayor Roach.

Council members will have final copy of the proposal by May 11th. On May 19th they'll vote on whether to give Cypress Group the land lease agreement - without it they can't apply for the HUD application.

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