Lake Area Adventures invests in lakefront

Published 1:25 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

Lake Charles officials on Friday unveiled the new Lake Area Adventures lakefront project on the edge of North Beach, just off Interstate 10. The development will provide boat and kayak rentals, water tours, pier fishing and food from a local barbecue restaurant.

Tim Robles is the general manager of Lake Area Adventures, a watercraft rental business open since 2016. He said the lakefront facility will house Paul’s Rib Shack, a stage for live entertainment, a pier and outdoor seating. Construction is expected to begin by this summer, pending approval by the City Council.

Robles said the goal is for some type of activity to begin while the facility is being built.

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“When people come over that (I-10) bridge, we want you to see more than just refineries,” he said. “We want you to see a community that loves the outdoors.”

Mayor Nic Hunter said city officials noticed a lack of waterfront activities along the lakefront. He said Lake Area Adventures will draw in locals and tourists along Interstate 10.

“Our welcome sign to the rest of the world continues to get brighter and better,” Hunter said. “You cannot buy this view or experience on Amazon.”

The Lake Area Adventures project was spurred by plans for two other lakefront development efforts, Hunter said. One is the $20 million Port Wonder complex, which will house a new Children’s Museum and science and nature center. Plans are also in motion for the second Crying Eagle Brewing location.

Both the Port Wonder and Crying Eagle lakefront projects were announced before the COVID-19 pandemic, and four federally-declared disasters. Hurricanes Laura and Delta made landfall in August and October 2020, followed by a winter storm last February and a historic flood last May. Officials broke ground on Port Wonder last June, and Hunter said “major visible work” on the site is weeks away from getting started.

“(This year) is going to be the year of seeing it and believing it on the lakefront,” Hunter said.

Paul Pettefer is the owner of Paul’s Rib Shack, a barbecue restaurant on Nelson Road. He said the new development is an incredible opportunity to gain access to waterfront adventures.

District A City Councilman Marshall Simien said he considers the lakefront as the city’s “front porch.” He said the Lake Area Adventures project isn’t just about development.

“It’s about the jobs it will create,” he said. “It’s about quality of life for us as a lake city.”

City Administrator John Cardone said the Lake Area Adventures site involves public and private entities.

“This is a perfect example of what can happen when a variety of stakeholders come together in a committed effort to create an incredible opportunity for our region,” he said.

Robles said the local community is courageous and hasn’t been deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic or any of the natural disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021. He said boat sales soared during the pandemic, and their business saw rentals quadruple.

“Southwest Louisiana is not about surviving; it’s about thriving,” he said. “We’re going to create something on this spot that people can be proud of.”