City proposes tearing down old Harrah's hotel

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's been an eyesore on the Lake Charles Lakefront for years. Now it looks like the old Harrah's hotel will be coming down. The property has been on the market for nearly six months and still no offers. With every option still on the table Councilman Marshall Simien feels like it's time to make room for new development.

"I want to tear down the old Harrah's hotel. I feel like it is time. It's a vacant blighted building on the lakefront," said Simien.

Pinnacle donated the property to the City of Lake Charles earlier this year under the condition the city advertise the property for sale for six months. After 180 days if no one showed interest in purchasing the property, Pinnacle agreed to tear it down at their expense.

"We have a little more than 30 days left on that agreement. We will establish the August 15th deadline but of course if we are ready to move we can go ahead and move," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

However the city doesn't want to scrap everything on the four acres. Even though it too is an eyesore the parking garage still has value.

"Garages are worth their weight in gold," said Simien. "They are expensive and are not easy to build. It would be in our best interest to keep the garage."

According to Mayor Roach inspectors say the garage is structurally sound and feasible for repair.

"In order to be able to use it we would have to re-stripe it and the would probably reduce the number of effective parking spaces, but it still has some functional use," said Roach.

Before the first brick goes down, the city will give notice to the half dozen people who have looked at the property and anyone else who may still be interested.

"In any case I think it is important that we follow up with those people to see if they have any additional questions or if they need any additional information. Just not let potential prospects lay dormant," explained Councilman Stuart Weatherford.

More importantly if the hotel is torn down, this is the first time the city will own the entire lakefront and control over the endless possibilities right off Interstate-10.

"I would like to see some nice restaurants, shops and maybe a concert area so drivers along the Interstate will actually see some real activity in the city," said Simien.

In the meantime the city will be in contact with Pinnacle about their plans. An official vote on the resolution to demolish the hotel will be made at the council's next regular meeting on Wednesday, July 20th.

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