Unbridled enthusiasm is the mother’s milk of real estate developers. And such is the case with the proposed Cross Bayou development.
Certain realities need to be acknowledged. In no particular order, here are a few.
Funding for a new state office building is a very long reach. Those that follow the funding process for local projects are keenly aware of the long list of major funding needs in Shreveport Bossier. A new state office building is a very low priority.
The Caddo Commission owns the Caddo courthouse. The Commission also owns the Caddo Juvenile Complex, which is in dire need of a new pod to house the in flux of 17 year old offenders later this year.
The Commission has continually refused to entertain any serious discussion of financing the construction of a juvenile pod. Thus any funding by the Commission of a criminal justice complex is seemingly a dream.
Caddo District Attorney James Stewart advises that he has “not expressed any opinion as to the entire project.” Thus speculation of a new criminal justice center is just that.
Last year the Shreveport City Council voted 4-3 to urge then mayor Ollie Tyler to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that the Cross Bayou developers insisted was needed. Tyler did not sign this document. Evidently it was not needed.
All four of the council members qualified their vote—saying it was only to allow the project plans to proceed. None of them unequivocally endorsed the project if it were to require any city funded projects. Two of those four are no longer on the Council.
How receptive the current Council will be to any discussion of Cross Bayou is an unknown. The revelation of now mayor Adrian Perkins that the city’s operating reserve is only $3 million, when it should be at least $15 million, has awakened the council as to the dire economic status of the city.
The demand for affordable housing in Shreveport is tremendous. However the demand for other housing—ie. more upscale—is declining. The city has been losing population for over 20 years. Thus the market for the proposed housing, other than affordable, is highly questionable.
If any of the projected $50 million in public funding is to come from Shreveport residents, then this project is indeed in trouble. The city is considering a bond referendum for later this year to fund much needed current capitol improvements, like streets and drainage. The Caddo Parish School Board is also considering a bond proposal.
The Cross Bayou developers are encouraged to pursue their dreams and passions. However, Shreveport citizens and elected officials should not be criticized for taking a prudent wait and see attitude. Until the exact costs for public funding and from which governmental entities is known, wholehearted public support for this project is not merited and should not be expected.