City expects to close sale of old Sears property soon

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

The last part of the legal procedure involving the Sears property in the downtown district is almost complete, said Lake Charles City Attorney Billy Loftin.

Once it is done, Loftin intends to close the land purchase with businessman Roger Landry. “Due to the three remaining curative items, of which one was resolved Wednesday, we will be scheduling a closing in the near future,” Loftin said.

Landry is offering $1 million for the parcel of land that used to be home to Sears. He has proposed constructing a residential facility that would include commercial space.

Loftin’s update follows correspondence he had with Donnie Jarreau, the managing member of Donnie Jarreau Developments based in Baton Rouge.

Jarreau has observed the business deal from afar and is anxious to see if Landry will be able to obtain the land. City Council members decided earlier this year that if Landry fails, Jarreau, who offered $825,000 for the land, would be negotiating with the city.

Jarreau sent an email — which the newspaper obtained — to City Hall and the City Council on April 29. According to the note, Jarreau was under the assumption that the deal should have been completed on Feb. 5 and wondered why Landry “had no financing contingencies (only environmental contingency) and that it was a cash offer.”

Jarreau wrote, “We are now basically in May and the property has not closed. If there is a title issue what is it and why has it not been resolved? Has Mr. Landry been required to show ‘proof of funds’ to close Act of Sale? I have had several calls from other Lake Charles businessmen and other real estate developers that Mr. Landry may be attempting to find partners on financing on the acquisition, which is not part of the terms of the agreement to purchase.”

Loftin wrote to Jarreau, via email, on April 30. He said Jarreau’s local agent was provided updates on the state of the Landry deal.

Jarreau responded on the same day that he did not understand the specifics related to the title work on the property and stressed his intention to have his backup offer addressed if Landry’s deal failed.

Regarding the cash offer, Loftin said that legal papers have to be finished first.

“Yes, the buy sell agreement with Roger Landry is a cash offer which did not require proof of funds because we have a backup offer,” he said. “I can’t require that he show proof of funds. It is not necessary to show proof of funds.”

Loftin said Landry is in compliance with the process the City Council put in place to govern the land purchase.

“He was on schedule. Now we are on the title curative schedule,” he said. “We respect the taxpayers and citizens and are making an attempt to obtain the highest and best offer. To do anything else would not be responsible.”

Attempts to contact Landry on Wednesday were unsuccessful.