Developer encourages others to take a chance on downtown development

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It has shot up in just a matter of weeks - the new building under construction across the street from the Calcasieu District Court House is underway and turning heads.

"As the building goes up I not only get really excited about it but you see some curves and some movement that are not on the flat paper. It's really exciting," said Rick Richard.

Richard has been looking at the building plans for three years. After running a Fortune 500 company, the Lake Charles native returned some five years ago. Now a member of the Lake Charles Downtown Development Authority, he's now putting his money where his mouth is:

"I wanted to give back to the community and build this building and be a part of the resurgence of downtown," said Richard. "At this time we don't have any tenants locked in now. I did it based on my belief that if you build it in downtown people will come."

At a total cost of $2,500,000, the building sits in the heart of historical downtown. Richard sees it becoming home to several offices and perhaps a restaurant.

"We really wanted to make it fit in and look like it had always belonged here. We originally thought of a third story and my wife Donna convinced me it wouldn't fit real well with three stories so we brought it down to two and it's working out just as she expected," explained Richard.

The project is the first to be built under the city's new smart code and comes with one of the best views.

"You can see all the way down to Sallier Street and to the Interstate. It's at least a three mile view. The only one in downtown here because we've done the new smart code that allows us to go right up to the corner of the sidewalk so we are the first one with that view," said Richard. "The balconies are going to be fantastic to be on especially for Mardi Gras parades. This will be the place to be during a parade."

Richard sees a promising future for Lake Charles and has no plans of stopping here.

"My next goal is to see if we can build a boutique hotel downtown as well a long the lines of pedestrian friendly dining and entertainment area," said Richard.

He hopes making this dream come true, will lead to the dream of a better down town becoming a reality.

"This shows people - yes - we can build downtown and it's an attractive place to be. I see it as a good start," said Richard.

Richard said he's considering naming the development, "The Phoenix Building," to represent the rising from the ashes from the fire of 1910 that destroyed much of downtown Lake Charles 100 years ago. The project is expected to be complete by the first quarter of next year.

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