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Rebuilding downtown Lake Charles

Some of the reasons why the rebuild process is delayed
The CDC announced Friday it was making a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine available for moderately to severely immunocompromised people.
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 9:42 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A part of town that doesn’t seem to be making progress since the hurricane - downtown Lake Charles. The question is, why are downtown businesses not bouncing back?

Most of these downtown businesses were struggling before the storms, and even more so now with the ongoing pandemic. Many have no timeline of when they might reopen their doors.

Some are still not sure of what the next step is.

Coming up on two years since COVID-related shutdowns began, and many downtown businesses still have not re-opened. Mandi Ohse with Bricks and Mortar Real Estate Co. gave some insight into some of the things causing the hold up.

“I think some of the reason we’re not bouncing back as fast is some of those businesses were struggling prior, and we also have insurance issues, people still fighting to get insurance, as well as contractors - we just don’t have them,” Ohse said.

Adding to that, Ohse says many are still waiting on permits and payouts from the storm.

“We’re looking now at a year and a half later and with really no federal help it’s challenging,” said Ohse.

While some are just deciding what to do with their property.

“If you notice none of them are actually on the market yet so I don’t know if that’s due to waiting on insurance still, or if that’s due to them still deciding on whether or not they’re gonna put their business back in there due to how much they were struggling prior to the storm because they were hit hard in the downtown area,” said Ohse.

It’s also not the best time for buyers. Ohse says the real estate is expensive, and there isn’t many properties available to buy.

“This has been a great year in general for just about everybody in the business but it’s not a great time for buyers. We’re seeing just about a 13% increase on almost all of the homes, as well as restaurants, businesses and almost everything in the area. And that’s a large jump,” said Ohse.

The turnaround time for building has added yet another challenge to the process. She says the normal turnaround is about 6 months, and at this time it’s at least a two year window to finish a building. Permits, building materials, and workers, are all slowing down progress.

She says on the other hand, industrial property sales are booming. She says some of that business is coming from out of state clients, who are moving workers here to help after storm damage, or other jobs.

She also says with the amount of buildings that have been demolished already, the open land makes it easier for those industrial properties to be built in a quicker time period.

She says it will take some time to rebuild downtown Lake Charles, but will be worth the wait.

“I would say we’re looking at at least a five-year window before our city is back, but I honestly think it’s coming up better. If you look at the property that has been fixed on Nelson and Lake, they’re beautiful. It’s just gonna take time to get there,” said Ohse.

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