City takes new approach to Lakefront development - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

City takes new approach to Lakefront development

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

After failed negotiations the City of Lake Charles is taking a new approach to sparking development along the lakefront. The property known as Track 1-A just south and to include the area behind the Lake Charles Civic Center has been subdivided.

"It's been broken into five pieces of various sizes that may allow for smaller developments to come in and make proposals on that," explained Stuart Weatherford, Lake Charles City Council.  

Mayor Randy Roach believes it's a realistic approach.

"A developer wouldn't have to spend millions of dollars and have a better shot at it," said Roach.

The move did not come without concerns.

"We can't dictate what goes there but we also want something that is going to be in line with our vision for the lakefront so I felt in order to not waist a lot of time we could at least tell developers what we are looking for to locate there," said Luvertha August, Lake Charles City Council.

While no one wants to sacrifice good real estate for parking - that topic was also up for discussion. If the entire five pieces of land are developed the Civic Center would lose almost half of its parking.

"I think that's an issue we need to get a head of because we can have all this development but if there is no place for people to park or for the Civic Center we need to take care of that because it's going to be on us," said Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Council.

Councilman Rodney Geyen said it's a problem he would like to have.

"I encourage the development because then we can include trams and a trolley that can bring people from a few blocks east of the Civic Center," said Geyen.

Meanwhile others believe it would promote a walkable downtown community.

"If you are walking through shops and different establishments it doesn't seem like it takes very long to walk somewhere. If that area is to be developed and you just have to walk a block to get to the Civic Center. I think it will be fine. And it just attributes to the fact that when you go to the larger cities you don't expect to park right outside the place you are going. You usually park at a facility or an adjacent lot and you walk to where you need to go," said Mark Eckard, Lake Charles City Council Vice President.

According to officials the parking issue can also be negotiated with each development proposal.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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