Roach not ready to watch lakefront hotel project die

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Mayor Randy Roach said his administration hasn’t given up on seeing the construction of a hotel on the grounds of the Civic

Center.

Last month, voters said no to a deal

that would have allowed the administration to invest $3 million toward a

multimillion-dollar

hotel project that was going to be completed by New Orleans-based

HRI.

The measure failed 2,770 votes to 2,413.

If the proposition had passed, City Hall would have activated a tax increment financing, or TIF, district around the Civic

Center, using collected tax dollars to finance improvements for the hotel and other projects.

Roach admits that the vote may have been rushed because all the specifics of the deal were not answered. He is targeting the

spring of 2014 as the earliest date he would try to get the proposition back on a ballot.

“That gives us nine to 10 months,” Roach said. “If we do have an election, we will have a development agreement, site plan,

and answers to parking issues and other aspects of the project. We have to deal with utilization and parking issues before

we go forward.”

In January, the administration

contemplated not calling for an election due to concerns about not

having enough time to communicate

all of the details of the HRI project to the public. Roach said

HRI was “disappointed” about the proposition failing.

“I think they are very interested in doing a hotel here. But this does change the dynamics of the project,” Roach said. “Two

months from now things could change.”

If another investor offered a hotel project — with the appropriate financing — Roach said the city would be interested.

“We would go to HRI and tell them about it. In an effort to honor our commitment we’d give them an opportunity to proceed

with their project,” Roach said.

He said he is concentrating on the roadblocks that need to be addressed with the hotel project, no matter the investor.

He wants to involve the community in deciding what type of hotel project should be voted on.

“We are going to take the objections raised in the last election and have development proposals, alternatives and site plans,”

he said.

He is intent on “not rushing” a public vote again.