Downtown Development Authority Gets Analysis of City's Metro State

Reported By: Amanda Ward

The Downtown Development Authority has employed a marketing research firm to evaluate Lake Charles as a metro hub, and decide what's the best fit for downtown.

Laurie Volt with W-ZHA addressed the DDA and about 35 citizens Tuesday.

"We need to start marketing the wonderful downtown that you already have.. because in 5-7 years, it will be even more spectacular," she said.

The research includes population for Lake Charles, where people spend their money, and how much money they're actually making.

The median income for Lake Charles is $35,200.

"A city typically has a very low median income in which half the city's income is above, and half is below," she said.

Meaning: many people make more and many people make much less.

"But that's ok, because you actually have room to grow," Volt said.

Challenges for downtown development include neglected/vacant property, high development costs, and lack of marketing.

Volt said, "One way to make office vacancy less negative is to take some of those office buldings and convert them to residential."

The research shows it's also important to bring in more residents before bringing restaurants and businesses, which proves a need for mixed-use development.

This plan suggests the need for hotels, condos, mansion apartments, and courtyard apartments.

It also negates the idea of a lifestyle center.

Volt said, "It would be better to create incrementally rather than one big center of sales and restaurants."