LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's amazing what a few bricks and sidewalks can do to change the look and feel of one of the oldest streets in Lake Charles. City officials believe it's part of the reason there is renewed interest in the old Sears retail site downtown.
"Recently we have had two developers express interest in the site. We think the Streetscape project has something to do with that. Not just in the way it looks but what it does to property values... What it does to create that sense of place you look for in bringing back your downtown," said Mayor Randy Roach.
Mayor Roach is not revealing the developers interested at this time nor the proposed plans.
"I don't want to tie a developer to a project until we get a formal proposal in writing because that can always change," said Roach. "But the property is for sale and the sooner we sell it the better."
The next step is to go before the City Council and officially start the process to sell the property.
If developers are not looking to purchase there is plenty of lakefront land for lease. Earlier this year the Lake Charles City Council divided the property just south of the Civic Center to encourage smaller more affordable developments. So far there have been no takers. However, plans to build a high-end hotel at the Civic Center to accommodate large conventions is still in the works.
"A hotel is an expensive proposition. We are still looking at different terms of a lease as they relate to financing and the overall project. And once those decisions are made then we will come back to the council with a recommendation as to how much money the city could invest in the project in terms of public infrastructure and how much money the developer would be expected to invest in actual construction of a hotel," said Mayor Roach.
Negotiations are still underway with Mardi Gras Boardwalk to purchase the old Harrah's Property donated to the City of Lake Charles by Pinnacle. The mega-million dollar commercial and residential proposal is still very much alive. Mardi Gras Boardwalk is set to purchase the property for $4,400,000. Details of revisions to their plans are now in the hands of the attorneys.
"I have been in contact with their attorney and sent them back some suggested revisions mainly dealing with the timeline. I think we should get their revisions within the next couple of days. I didn't get any feedback from them that gave me any indication that any of the issues we brought up were deal breakers or anything that would cause any major heartburns," explained Billy Loftin, Lake Charles City Attorney.
While patience may be running out for some Mayor Roach said it all comes down to financing.
"Some cities take an additional step and they go in and actually sign on the dotted line and assign the loan so to speak with the developers. We said a long time ago we didn't want to do that. That makes it a little more difficult for developers to develop public property," said Mayor Roach.