Feb 4, 2012 2:50 PM by Sharlee Barriere
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - City officials have green-lighted discussions with a New Orleans-based group for possible development of a hotel near the Lake Charles Civic Center.
The American Press reports (http://bit.ly/qjfACs) the City Council authorized Mayor Randy Roach's administration to open discussions on the hotel, which would be branded as a Hyatt, despite concerns raised by the Southwest Louisiana Hotel Association.
Group spokesman Nimesh Zaver told the council that local hotel and motel owners have invested in the city, and oppose taxpayer dollars being made available for a competing hotel
"Our biggest fear is making taxpayers liable," he said, adding that if the developer defaults the city would have to take over the project.
He also questioned a consultant's report that the Civic Center hosts enough events to sustain an attached hotel.
"Our total occupancy is at 50 percent," Zaver said.
City Councilman Marshall Simien disagreed.
"The consultants and Hyatt Corp. think the hotel would be an asset. They see room to grow," he said.
The council approved a measure requiring the developer - HRI Properties - to provide specifics on financing for the 150-room hotel.
City officials said HRI's proposal expressed interest in obtaining a $2.5 million loan from the city.