Early signs of industrial impact being felt in Lake Area - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Early signs of industrial impact being felt in Lake Area

KPLC: Lee Peck KPLC: Lee Peck
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There are already signs the Lake Area is growing with new home construction ahead of the expected industrial expansion.

"We're seeing sales go up in price per foot; we're seeing sales turn faster," said Nikki Pruitt, Realtor with Keller Williams Realty.

According to Pruitt, they've seen a dramatic increase in the market over the last six to eight months. She said it's not just Lake Charles but across the board in all areas of Southwest Louisiana.

"Our homeowners still can't really grasp the fact that they have had an increase in property values, but I think it is just the beginning. The last year has been phenomenal, and I think over the next five to seven years - the growth is just going to be unimaginable," said Pruitt.

With thousands of people projected to relocate in Southwest Louisiana, the Calcasieu Parish School Board has already begun talks with local industry.
"We're anticipating a growth. Now, to be able to say with any accuracy a number and a location of where we are going to see it... we're not at that point yet. We really have to rely on industry to express to us their workforce needs before we begin to - and I hate to say it - 'guesstimate' what number and where those students are going to go," said Kirby Smith, Calcasieu Parish School Board Spokesperson.

If the Lake Area does see a dramatic population increase, school enrollment will see a direct impact. The Calcasieu Parish school system is approaching 33,000 students with more than 5,000 employees. However, the School Board's plan to move forward is still a work in progress. 

While the School Board won't speculate if or where a new school would be built, Pruitt said it's already hot topic among potential home buyers in South Lake Charles, where they're trying to meet a housing shortage.

"Everyone is kind of going back and forth. Some people think that the school in Lake Charles is going to go east; some think it's going to be west. Of course, that would impact property values, because people may want to attend the new school," said Pruitt.

Smith said the School Board's long term plan is still up for discussion.
"In some ways, we will have to be reactionary and just kind of adjust as the growth comes in, but we will be quick to move once we see those areas that will need it... Again, like I said, we're not going to make any major decisions without having some public input. We want to know what their opinions are," said Smith.

Smith said they are still awaiting several studies of projected growth before they proceed with their plan for the future.

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