City takes ownership of old Harrah's property

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With acquisition of the old Harrah's property the City of Lake Charles for the first time has full ownership of the lakefront.

"I want to congratulate the mayor on getting the property transferring finalized and done," said Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Councilman.

The four acres includes a hotel and parking garage. Considering the property's longterm development potential, the City Council must now decide what to do. According to the agreement with Pinnacle the city has 180 days to decide whether to lease, sell or demolish the structures on the property. If they decide to tear it down within that six-month period, Pinnacle will do the job at no cost to the city.

But some council members are looking ahead and say with future development along the lakefront suggest keeping the parking garage would be in the city's best interest.

"That would certainly be an answer to our parking problem that may exist in the future," said Rodney Geyen, Lake Charles City Council President.

According to city officials it would cost $12,000 to $14,000 per space to build a new parking garage. Structural engineers have also inspected the current garage.

"Was it feasible to dismantle and relocate? - No it's not. But the structure is structurally sound. It's a good parking garage, but as the mayor mentioned with geometrics it's very narrow. But they think they can rework that," said John Cardone, Lake Charles City Administrator.

While every piece of land has a price, some aren't interested in giving it up.

"I don't know about selling. I'm not in favor of that, especially since this is the first time we've had control of the entire Lake Charles Lakefront," said Simien.

"I'm not disagreeing with that but if that's a $1,000,000 decision or if it's a $10,000,000 decision - I think we need to know," said Mayor Randy Roach.

After further discussion, a resolution was placed on the agenda asking the council to authorize the city to solicit development offers on the property.

"I think we owe it to ourselves to be able to evaluate that decision and determine exactly how valuable that property really is," said Mayor Roach.

With all options still on the table, the council now gets to make decisions it's been waiting years to make.

In addition, Mayor Roach also asked the council to negotiate and enter into a lease agreement with the State of Louisiana for the water bottom beyond the property. It will eventually be used to construct the proposed Lakefront Harbor.

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