Cypress Group wants second chance at lakefront development - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cypress Group wants second chance at lakefront development

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - More than two weeks after the Lake Charles city council rejected their plan for lakefront development, developer Cypress Group is set go back before the city with a new approach to their mixed-use development. 

While they now think everything on the city's wish list is covered, the Cypress Group is asking for the public to help them make their proposal a reality.

This latest development in the lakefront development saga comes after council members rejected 4 to 2 a phased in approach to a lakefront development - possibly with or without a parking garage - depending on the market. 

"The first plans given out it was a Metro Goldwyn production and now we are stuck with a moderate budget movie. It's not that epic anymore," said Councilwoman Luvertha August.  

That was on August 4th. Since then the Cypress Group has gone back to the drawing board and is now moving forward with hopes of securing a long-term land lease agreement to build their development on the south side of the Lake Charles Civic Center.

"We've heard from the council that the parking garage is a must and so we will proceed with providing a parking garage in our plans," said Chris Rinaudo, with Cypress Group.

Rinaudo says the garage as depicted in the original plans would be hidden by four stories and would consist of 220 apartments, and a ground floor of 54,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Councilman Dana Carl Jackson expressed concern about that approach at the April 4th meeting.

"The total plan - building moderate housing on the most valuable property in Calcasieu Parish -I just don't understand it. I'm sorry I'm going to be against it today. And if it's 30 days from now I'm going to vote no," said Jackson.  

Rinaudo explains the proposal does not depend on taxpayer funding and that HUD funding is a widely used federal program which insures a portion of the private sector funding for construction. Rinaudo also says in no way is this project related to low income housing.

"These will be high-end market rate units. They will be available to the general public. They will not be reserved for any income bracket or any other specific resident profile. They will be available to anyone and everyone and will be at market rates," said Rinaudo.  

The Cypress Group has sent letters to Mayor Randy Roach and all of the city council members outlining their new plan. Also enclosed are letters of support from Andres Duany, the internationally respected planner who led Lake Charles' Master Plan efforts, and George Swift, the President & CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.

The proposal is projected to create some 400 construction jobs and dozens of permanent jobs once complete. They promise the commercial side of the proposal will bring an entertainment destination that Lake Charles will enjoy and be proud to invite visitors.

"We're planning restaurants, fitness centers, retail, commercial space on the entire ground floor. So that is what the citizens of Lake Charles will experience when this development is complete is nothing more than a fantastic entertainment complex," said Rinaudo. "There's nothing low end or even moderate about what we are doing here. The waterfront demands a very nice development and that's what we plan to bring."

Cypress Group is set to make another proposal at the City Council's next regular meeting on September 1st.

*** The following is the Cypress Group's proposal and letters to the Mayor & City Council Members:

 

Council Members Have Opportunity to Accelerate

(Lake Charles, Louisiana) The Louisiana]based developer planning Lakeside – an exciting,

catalytic mixed]use development on the shores of Lake Charles – today made available the

attached open letter to the citizens of Lake Charles in an effort to ensure widespread access to

complete and accurate information pertaining to Lakeside.

"As the developer of this exciting residential]retail]dining]entertainment]parking venue,

Cypress Realty is working diligently to fulfill its duty to ensure the citizens of Lake Charles have

access to complete and accurate information pertaining to Lakeside," said Chris Rinaudo, the

leader of Cypress Realty's Lakeside development team.

In the interest of the citizens of Lake Charles having access to complete and accurate

information pertaining to Lakeside in advance of the City Council's next meeting on September

1, when the Council has the opportunity to accelerate the Lakeside development process

forward, Cypress Realty today made a copy of the attached letter available to the public and

sent copies to Mayor Randy Roach and each of the members of the City Council of Lake Charles.

Cypress Realty plans to post the letters on a publicly accessible web site.

Cypress Realty's letter encourages citizens of Lake Charles who want to accelerate the Lakeside

development forward to call their Council Member in advance of September 1 to express their

support. Phone numbers for Council Members are listed at

http://www.cityoflakecharles.com/egov/docs/1246548345_710693.pdf.

Please see development renderings on the following page.

Please see the attached open letter to the Citizens of Lake Charles as well as letters of support

from Andres Duany, the internationally respected planner who led Lake Charles' Master Plan

efforts, and George Swift, the President & CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.

*** Letter to Citizens from Cypress Group ***

Dear Citizens of Lake Charles,

The Lakeside mixed]use development will help Lake Charles' exciting master plan come

to life by extending Downtown's urban fabric and by bringing upscale residences, retail, dining,

entertainment, and parking close to the edge of the lake. This development is poised to serve

as the catalyst for the renaissance of Downtown Lake Charles.

As the developer of this catalytic project, Cypress Realty understands it has a duty to

ensure the citizens of Lake Charles have access to complete and accurate information

pertaining to Lakeside. Cypress is pleased to share the following information in advance of the

City Council's next meeting on September 1, when the Council has the opportunity to

accelerate the development process forward:

• Following Hurricane Rita, many Lake Charles citizens participated in public, widely attended

planning charrettes that resulted in the new Lake Charles Master Plan.

• That Master Plan articulated a vision for a lakefront development that included retail,

dining, entertainment, residential, and parking.

• When the Master Plan was put to a vote in May of 2007, over 80% of Lake Charles

citizens who voted supported the plan.

• The Lake Charles Downtown Development Authority (DDA) conducted an open

competition for concepts for development on the parcel to the immediate south of the

Civic Center (Tract One A).

• Cypress Realty, a Louisiana]based real estate development firm, proposes a mixed]use

development featuring ground]floor space for shopping, dining, and entertainment; 220

upscale apartments; and an enclosed parking garage.

• The Lake Charles DDA recommended the Cypress Realty proposal to the City Council,

and the City Council authorized the DDA to negotiate a long]term lease of the property

and a formal development agreement with Cypress Realty.

• On July 7th, 2010, the City Council unanimously voted to approve a long]term lease of

the property and a formal development agreement.

• Under the terms of the long]term lease, the City of Lake Charles retains ownership of

the land, and Cypress pays the city to lease the land.

• The city will always retain ownership of the land.

• Cypress and a private]sector lender have a formal lender engagement agreement in

which the private]sector lender will provide financing for the construction of the

development.

• Cypress' private]sector lender will participate in a widely]used federal program that

insures a portion of the private]sector lender's construction financing.

• That program does not carry with it any restrictions or requirements on resident

profiles, including affordability, income, or age.

• The development includes an enclosed parking garage.

• The development is projected to create 400 construction jobs.

• The retail/dining/entertainment portion of the development is projected to create

dozens of permanent jobs.

• The residential portion of the development is projected to create ten permanent jobs.

• The development is projected to generate over $200,000 in direct taxes annually.

• The development is not affiliated with the City of Lake Charles' $90 million bond issue.

• The development will complement many of the lakefront enhancements facilitated by

the $90 million bond issue (Bord du Lac Marina, Lakefront Promenade, Bord du Lac Park

Amphitheater, etc.).

• The development does not depend on any public funding or any taxpayer funding.

• On September 1, the City Council has an opportunity to accelerate the development

forward by approving the proposed plans.

• Andres Duany, the internationally respected planner who led the Lake Charles planning

charrettes in the wake of Hurricane Rita, said the following to Mayor Roach and

members of the City Council in a letter dated August 10, 2010: "The development

envisioned by Cypress Realty is precisely the type of project called for in the Lake

Charles Lakefront Master Plan, and I strongly encourage the leadership of the city to

support moving the project forward. The sooner the city's leadership allows this project

to move forward, the sooner the city's lakefront begins to make progress toward its

promising future. The leadership of Lake Charles has taken forward]leaning steps

toward a vital and important lakefront. I encourage you to sustain the city's valuable

momentum toward an enhanced lakefront by moving the Cypress Realty project

forward now."

• George Swift, President and CEO of the Southwestern Louisiana Economic Development

Alliance expressed the following to Mayor Roach and the City Council in a letter dated

August 2, 2010: "We applaud the application of the Cypress Group and their mixed]use

plan for retail, commercial, and residential space on the Lakefront. This project includes

apartments and space for businesses which should especially be attractive to younger

demographics. We encourage you to support the recommendation of the Downtown

Development Authority and approve Cypress moving ahead with this development.

Other developers are considering projects in our area. Our community must be

supportive and encourage developers if we are to realize the potential of our downtown

and lakefront."

 

Citizens of Lake Charles who want to accelerate the Lakeside development forward are

encouraged to call their Council Member in advance of September 1 to express their support.

Cypress Realty appreciates the opportunity to share information pertaining to the

Lakeside development, and I look forward to being available to answer any questions that may

be presented at the City Council's meeting on September 1. Should anyone have questions in

advance of the September 1 meeting of the City Council, I invite you to please contact me at

(225) 773]6605.

Sincerely,

Chris Rinaudo

Development Lead for Lakeside

 

*** Letter of Support from Andres Duany: 

 

D U A N Y P L A T E R - Z Y B E R K & C O M P A N Y

A R C H I T E C T S A N D T O W N P L A N N E R S

M I A M I W A S H I N G T O N C H A R L O T T E

August 10, 2010

The Honorable Randy Roach

The Honorable Members of the City Council of Lake Charles

Dear Leaders of Lake Charles,

Following Hurricane Rita, Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) was invited to help the citizens of Lake Charles

develop a vision for an enhanced lakefront and a plan to achieve that worthy goal. A very inclusive and

widely-attended Lake Charles charrette process produced a set of specific recommendations, two of

which were "to extend the urban fabric to the waterfront" and "to catalyze high-quality housing

construction in the downtown area."

I have been very pleased to see those two recommendations begin to come to fruition through Cypress

Realty's plans for a mixed-use lakefront development featuring 54,000 square feet of retail space that will

bring dining and shopping; approximately 220 market-rate residential units; civic space; and hundreds of

enclosed parking spaces.

It is my understanding that some in the community are claiming an objection to Cypress Realty's

proposed method of financing construction of this forward-looking development. Development s of this

type are frequently financed through a construction loan from a private-sector lender in which the private sector

lender insures the loan through a federal insurance program. That program carries with it no

affordability, income, age, or other requirements regarding tenants. Cypress Realty's proposed financing

is for an exciting mixed-use development that includes market-rate, non-subsidized apartments.

The development envisioned by Cypress Realty is precisely the type of project called for in the Lake

Charles Lakefront Master Plan, and I strongly encourage the leadership of the city to support moving the

project forward. The sooner the city's leadership allows this project to move forward, the sooner the

city's lakefront begins to make progress toward its promising future.

The leadership of Lake Charles has taken forward-leaning steps toward a vital and important lakefront. I

encourage you to sustain the city's valuable momentum toward an enhanced lakefront by moving the

Cypress Realty project forward now.

Sincerely,

Andres M. Duany

---

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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