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Roach promotes hotel plan ahead of election

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:32 AM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Eleven days are left before Lake Charles voters will decide on a proposition that will go a long way in deciding how the lakefront will appear in the future.

The proposition, as it will read in the ballot box: “Can the City work with a developer to build a hotel at the Civic Center and use the taxes from hotel operations to pay for a portion of the cost of the Hotel or other public improvements located in the lakefront area?”

Mayor Randy Roach’s administration is banking on voters understanding the wording and allowing a private-public partnership to be formed that will lead to the construction of a $19 million, 150-room Hyatt Place Hotel next to the Civic Center.

Administration officials are now in information-sharing mode as they try to explain specifics of the deal to voters.

During these formal and informal question-and-answer sessions, some in the public have voiced concern about the possibility of losing parking and the ability to enjoy outdoor events on the Civic Center grounds if the hotel is constructed there.

During a press briefing at City Hall on Tuesday, Roach said future parking has been an unresolved problem ever since talk of developing the lakefront was undertaken.

“The success of any development — a hotel or other commercial development — depends on adequate parking,” he said.

“Additional parking for special events could be enhanced by establishing pedestrian corridors across Lakeshore Drive and possibly even parallel parking for special events along Lakeshore Drive,” Roach said. “However, the best way to provide adequate parking for any future development in the area is to build a parking garage. If passed, this proposition could help us finance those improvements.”

Regarding visual access to the lake, Roach said HRI Properties, the developer, is willing to make a decision on where the hotel will be placed, with input from City Hall.

“They plan to come to Contraband Days and other events to get a feel for what is needed. If this referendum passes, the issue regarding the actual location of the hotel will have to be negotiated and approved by the City Council,” Roach said.

City Councilman John Ieyoub attended the briefing and said his colleagues are interested in the outcome of the vote before they start dealing with any details associated with the development.

“If we get approval from the people, we will give serious considerations to all the concerns that have been raised. Every step in the process will come before the City Council,” he said.

Ieyoub noted that the voices of “constituents” will be listened to by the City Council.

“Where the hotel ultimately will be positioned. What it looks like. How it will handle parking, and how it will complement all current and future development on the lakefront. If it comes to that point, we will rely heavily on public input.”

Posted By: Andrew S. On: 3/28/2013

Title: Re: Hotel plan vote

Dr. Palombo,
The Civic Center is not fully used, I drove by it today and that parking lot was not full at all. Obviously one picture from one day does not represent everyday. There is plenty of room on that property for all kinds of development, including a hotel. Having a hotel adjacent (as in within walking distance) to the Civic Center will actually increase the number of meetings, events, and conventions, etc. at the Civic Center (which is technically a convention center).
The old Harrah's property is being sold to the developers of Mardi Gras Boardwalk, so that is not an option, and the old Sears property was sold to Roger Landry who intends on building a mixed use urban building.

Posted By: Sam Chase On: 3/27/2013

Title: It's time to move forward

If this were a new tax or a tax increase, I would not be in favor of this project; however, it isn't. Taxes WILL NOT be increased because of this project. It would only set aside a portion of the sales tax generated from the new hotel adjacent to the civic center (if approved). This hotel would actually help the city improve parking conditions at the Civic Center because eventually the city could explore options such as a parking garage using some of the revenue generated from the voter approved TIF (tax incremental financing) district. As of now, the north shore is not an option for a hotel, as Mardi Boardwalk seeks to build an entertainment venue on the property. The old Sears property is also out of the question as Roger Landry is already in the process of planning a future development there. Lake Charles is on the brink of an economic boom and the city cannot afford to drop the ball. I for one, see no problem with the lakefront hotel and I believe that it will actually help improve the Civic Center's ability to attract events to the city and establish itself as a true convention center. I will vote to approve.

Posted By: Bonnie Palombo On: 3/27/2013

Title: Hotel plan vote

We are being asked to vote, yet there are so many unanswered questions. This seems to be a trend in today's political scene that makes me uncomfortable. Seems there are alot of other places to build a private hotel, if private enterprise saw a desirable business opportunity.

Posted By: Dr. Anthony Palombo On: 3/27/2013

Title: Hotel plan vote

It seems to me that the Civic Center property is fully used now what with all the cars parked in the parking lots in the picture above. There's just no room for a hotel on the property. Why not build the hotel across the lake on the North shore, which already has a parking facility? Or where the old Sears complex was? I'm voting against this proposition.

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