Pinnacle to turn over old Harrah's property to city

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As folks visited over fine wine - introductions were in order for L'Auberge du Lac's new VP/General Manager Geno Iafrate.

"I'm looking forward to being a big part of this community and helping this casino property grow," said Iafrate.

That announcement was quickly upstaged by Pinnacle's announcement turn over the old Harrah's property back to the City of Lake Charles.

"We are going to work with the Mayor and the city as quickly can to get that blemish gone and have it put to better use," said Pinnacle CEO Anthony Sanfilippo. "Whether we find someone who will actually renovate and operate the hotel or whether we at our own expense clean that site and then hand it back over to the city so that it can be put back into use for the city."

An eyesore for several years now, it's a long awaited decision for Mayor Randy Roach. "Wow! Anthony on behalf of all of these folks here thank you, thank you very much we appreciate it," said Mayor Roach.

While both options are appealing, the city is looking at long-term plans for the four acre property as it relates to lakefront development.

"Probably the best thing to do if the city had its preference would be to take the proceeds of the sale because it puts property back in business and we can have money to work with for other plans for development," explained Mayor Roach.

But Roach understands the current economic climate, which also led to Pinnacle's decision to scrap the Sugar Cane Bay Project and hand over the 2nd gaming license - a decision they still stand by.

"I don't believe the market is big enough to have another casino come into town. I think that it will just dilute what is already here - which is the wrong thing to do we've got to focus on making those that are operating here in Lake Charles stay strong and vibrant," said Sanfilippo.

As L'Auberge celebrates five years in the market and ushers in new management, Pinnacle promises the casino resort will remain it's premier property.

"This facility has done that successfully for five years and we think that we will continue to develop this property and we'll continue to look for needed amenities necessary for that growth," said Iafrate.

One thing you won't see happen on the old Harrah's property is another gaming operation. That would be restricted under the property agreement.

Again there is no clear time table on when this will happen, but everyone says real soon.

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