LC City Council: "Speed up lakefront development process"

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Up until now any proposal for lakefront development has gone through the Lake Charles Downtown Development Authority before landing on the desk of city council members. Now there's an effort to streamline the process.

"To help our lakefront I believe any developer and any investor that comes on the lakefront property should be directed directly to council," proposed City Council Member Dana Carl Jackson.

"I know that with the last development we used about three different council meetings dealing with it - so let's just bypass that and get right to the issue," said City Council Member Marshall Simien.

Cutting down the channels will certainly speed up the process, but some say not so fast: "I just don't think that we should be hasty in proceeding with this project," said Council Member Luvertha August.

August was not the only to express concern about the current recommendation by the DDA.

"Any developer that we hire - they should abide by what our vision is and it just seems to be that it's just not that way now. It seems that the developer is approaching us about what it can and cannot do," said August.

Last week developer Cypress Group proposed a phased-in approach to lakefront development just south of the Civic Center - implying they don't have the funding source for a parking garage. Phase one would include a four story mixed use development with 54-thousand square feet of commercial space on the bottom floor and the upper floors consisting of 150 apartments. Phase two would have a parking garage that would be camouflaged by another 50 apartments. But despite the DDA's refusal to phase the project in and to recommend the project in it's entirety some on the council say the original concept has gone south.

"I saw the proposal and I am pretty certain at how I am going to vote at this point unless something changes and I think Wednesday is the time to discuss that," said Council Member Stuart Weatherford.

With the parking garage issue now taking center stage, Mayor Randy Roach says the deal hasn't fallen apart just yet.

"Hopefully by the time we get to the meeting next week on August 4th all of those questions will be resolved and we should have a better idea on how that package should be put together and what the funding mechanism would be," said Mayor Roach.

In order to move forward with the project the item needs four out of seven council votes.

Meanwhile the proposed item pertaining to the Downtown Development Authority just concerns development along lakefront property. Any development in downtown would still go through the DDA.

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.