Yes, its back. Another proposal to develop Cross Bayou.
The first was by former mayor Ollie Tyler. This version featured a sports complex, office buildings and housing units. The city council shot this idea down in 2017.
The second proposal is by Gateway Development Consortium (GDC). The initial plan was introduced to the council last year and a memorandum of understanding was ultimately signed by Tyler in 2018.
The new and improved GDC plan for Cross Bayou has been shopped around town to various private groups. At the Mar. 21 Caddo Commission, it was publicly unveiled.
This version has a state office complex, a criminal justice complex, a multi-use sports complex, 5,000 residential units, and hard banking of the Cross Bayou shores. A new Caddo court house may also be in the project as well.
The total estimated costs are breathtaking. The 4 phases total up to $464 million plus. Of this amount, approximately $47 million is to be publicly funded.
Not mentioned at the Commission is the requirement of a $10 million private dollar commitment. A GDC spokesman later said this is needed to go to the private capital market.
The new plan envisions that the city of Shreveport and Caddo Parish enter into a joint venture. Then they are to “assemble” the 63 acres needed for the development. There are 5 owners, which includes the parish, of the needed tracts.
The power point presentation for the Commission, which is now on the https://www.crossbayoupointproject.com/ website, does not indicate if this assembled tract is to leased, sold, or donated to GDC.
The memorandum of understanding approved by the city council included a municipal complex. It also stated that GDC would “assume land and liabilities in the project area designated as a brownfield site and prepare for development.”
The project will require the State of Louisiana to lease the office complex. Governor Jon Bel Edward’s office has not made a commitment for a leased. Why the state would want to lease a new building versus stay in the Fairfield Avenue building was not explained.
The project will require a lease by the Parish of the criminal justice complex and a courthouse if included. The parish has not made this commitment. Why the parish would want to lease new buildings versus stay in the existing courthouse and Ward Building was not explained.
The power point indicates that the Caddo School Board and the New Orleans Saints will lease the sports complex. No commitments have been made for these leases.
There has been, in the past, some discussion of a new city court complex. This was not included in the power point presentation.
Big projects like this do not hatch overnight. The deadline to make this happen apparently is Dec 31 of this year. That is the deadline to get the much needed tax incentives of the federal opportunity zones.
Perhaps the most critical element in this entire scenario is that fact that Shreveport and Caddo residents have not been involved in planning this project. Additionally, the scarcity of public dollars in the budgets of the City of Shreveport, the Caddo Commission and the Caddo School Board are major hurdles.
(This article was published in The Inquisitor on Friday, March 28, 2019)