Luxury apartments, retail space Landry’s vision

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Editor’s note: This is the second story in a three-part series examining development proposals for the former Sears property in downtown Lake Charles.

Developer Roger Landry is intent on making downtown Lake Charles its own distinct and diverse section of the city.

He envisions a four-story residential and retail building with enough tenants to support any new business that locates in

the district.

“I’m a downtown guy. I feel that in order for that section of the city to really get started, it needs about 1,000 to 2,000

people living there.”

Earlier this week, Landry threw his name into the proverbial hat with two other developers, each vying to purchase 3.7 acres

of land in the 600 block of Ryan Street and build a new structure.

Landry, the head of Erdace Apartments, is offering $628,500 for the city-owned property.

He is competing against Baton Rouge developer Donnie Jarreau and Geddings Development Corp., which is headed by Lake Charles

businessman Gray Stream.

Landry proposes to construct a 225,000-square-foot-building that would be home to 166 luxury apartments and have 22,000 square

feet of space for retail businesses.

In his proposal, the list of amenities include indoor/outdoor pool; full workout gym and spa; full leasing office and lobby; full-time concierge; 15-20 electrical charging stations for automobiles; and solar panels for common areas.

Individual units would consist of a

brick-and-stone exterior; a balcony; hardwood floors; 9- and 10-foot

ceilings; private

courtyards on Mill and Division streets; extra

cabinets/hard-surface countertops; upgraded appliances; electric

fireplaces;

and washers and dryers.

Landry estimates 10 full-time jobs would be created on the property and 220 would be associated with the retail businesses.

If the City Council approves of his purchase price and proposal, Landry said it would take 36 months to complete the project.

“In order to make the downtown thrive, you have to bring in more people. Additional people have to be down here, and then

everything else will come,” he said.

Private financing would be used to complete the project, Landry’s proposal says.

“The project will be a market rate

product (rents will be determined by what the market will bear). It is

estimated that about

$2.5 million of private equity will be required with the remaining

sources of capital being provided by a lender. My development

partners and team will be providing this private equity,” Landry

says in his proposal.

“We have a number of lenders interested

in the project; however Greystone and Co. is our preferred lender. They

have provided

a letter for this package at this time. We have worked with them

in the past with other projects in the southeastern United

States.”

The Greystone document that Landry refers to in his proposal is a letter of intent from the investment and real estate company,

based in New York.

“Based on our initial analysis of the

project budget, pro-forma operating information and related project

documents, Greystone

would be interested in process and funding a loan with an

estimated loan amount up to $17.5 million and an interest rate of

3 percent. The permanent loan will be fully amortizing over 40

years,” the letter reads.

Landry is not new to the local development market, having worked with Thomas Shearman to refurbish the Muller’s Building on

Ryan Street.

Landry most recently participated in a failed attempt to complete a contract with the city to develop the Lakeside project.

Shearman was not a partner in the Lakeside project, nor is he involved in the Erdace Apartments proposal.

The Lakeside deal collapsed after

developer Cypress Development was unable to obtain federal financing for

the multimillion-dollar

residential and business complex, which was going to be built on

the Civic Center grounds.

In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the start of a discrimination investigation

targeting City Hall and the Lakeside deal.

Lakeside officials contend that their financing efforts with HUD were denied because the city voted against it.

Landry, who has been questioned in the continuing investigation, contends he was not part of Lakeside and that he was only

assisting the company in its attempt to close a deal with the federal government and the city.

“All I am trying to do here now is buy land. I’ve been working on this new project for two years,” he said.