Boardwalk proposal offers entertainment destination

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The latest proposal for Lakefront development takes the Lake Charles boardwalk as we know it and transforms it into a mecca for entertainment, shopping, dining and nightlife.

"I think it could transform it into a destination stop. I think you can retain the gamblers here from Pinnacle and get some of the people to get off the Interstate and stay for a while," said Lake Charles City Councilman Dana Jackson.

"The Mardi Gras Boardwalk" is the vision of several parties: including an executive from Disney World and famed New Orleans Mardi Gras float construction artist Blaine Kern, Jr. The proposal would sit on the area of land just north of the Lake Charles Civic Center and wrap around all the way to Veteran's Memorial Park.

Some of the big draws: an amphitheater that could seat 5,000 people for a variety of shows including Broadway productions, concerts and symphonies. Visitors would also have their pick of at least six to eight destination entertainment restaurants. Legendary New Orleans entertainer Dr. John has proposed to host a satellite radio show from a music venue that would also welcome big name entertainers to the area. The centerpiece of the boardwalk would be the largest Ferris wheel in the country. There are also plans to include a giant roller coaster that would incorporate a water element over the lake.

The development also includes a 300 luxury suite hotel and 50 condos on top of retail space -parking for tenants provided. However when it comes to our expected influx of visitors Jackson says, "I think it's going to be the responsibility of the council before it's over. If we have customers coming in and visitors and tourists - I think we have to figure out a place to park them."

All privately funded, some are calling it the Branson, Missouri of Southwest Louisiana. "It's really great if it would just work - you always have a chance of it not coming together but all we can do is just keep plugging and trying to put something together," said Jackson.

The timeline of construction calls for phase one of the project (everything except the hotel) to be built and operational within two years. The underwriting contractor would be MAPP Construction, who handled the expansion of LSU's Tiger Stadium.

Meanwhile the Lake Charles City Council will discuss this latest proposal at Tuesday night's agenda meeting and the mayor will refer copies to the Downtown Development Authority for further recommendation.

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