$20+ million lakefront project proposal announced
Local and state officials gathered Thursday to announce Port Wonder, a $20 million-plus lakefront development project that will include an educational and entertainment facility designed to attract visitors to Lake Charles.
The venue — located between Cypress Alligator Pond and the former Harrah’s Casino parking garage — will house the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Science Center and Educational Complex.
“Now is the time for a catalyst that will transform the look of our lakefront that will provide a new, iconic welcome sign to our city,” said Mayor Nic Hunter. “This will be a game changer for locals (and) tourism.”
The project also calls for completely renovating the parking garage and other site improvements, Hunter said. The city owns the property, which has remained largely unchanged since Hurricane Rita’s 2005 landfall.
Hunter said he expects the project to be fully funded, subject to final approval by the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group of the science center and educational complex’s location and design changes. He said the project is being funded through a combination of public and private dollars and will not require any new tax propositions.
City Council President Mark Eckard said the development will improve the first impression for those driving along Interstate 10.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, said Gov. John Bel Edwards and Jack Montoucet, state wildlife and fisheries secretary, have been on board with the project “since day one.”
“This is a perfect example of what can happen when you bring state government, local governing authorities and private business together to make something happen,” Johns said.
Bart Yakupzak, wildlife and fisheries commissioner, said the facility could influence young people to pursue a career as a biologist.
Monti Lloyd, with the children’s museum board of directors, said the development will help fund more exhibits and programs.
“This proposal will enable us to develop a larger venue than we could have done independently,” she said.
Port Wonder is a proposed educational and entertainment venue to be located on the north shore of Lake Charles, in between the Cypress Alligator Pond and the former Harrah’s parking garage on city-owned property. The $20-plus million lakefront project was announced by Mayor Nic Hunter and other local and state officials on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
Port Wonder is a proposed educational and entertainment venue to be located on the north shore of Lake Charles, in between the Cypress Alligator Pond and the former Harrah’s parking garage on city-owned property.
A rendering of the proposed science center announced at Thursday’s press conference.