Big questions on proposed billion dollar Cross Bayou development project

Big questions on proposed billion dollar Cross Bayou development project
much of the area is owned by the city, and the project would be a private/public partnership
(Source: KSLA News 12)
(Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There are lingering, unanswered questions about the latest proposal to transform the northern edge of downtown Shreveport.

Gateway Development Consortium (GDC) hopes to build the $1 billion mixed-use complex that will include a municipal complex, a school, housing and more.

But, as we began to ask more questions, we received few answers. That includes how GDC arrived at that billion dollar estimate to pay for this Cross Bayou Project? We are still waiting for that answer.

On Tuesday, May 22, The Shreveport City Council voted 4-to-3 in support of a resolution agreeing to a non-binding "Memorandum of Understand," but only if 6 provisions can be met.

The first one gives GDC 1 year to get a commitment from Louisiana to move some state offices to the complex.

But some suggested that, in and of itself, could be a giant hurdle to overcome for a state in dire financial straits. That includes concerned citizen John Settle.

"This state recently sent eviction notices to people in nursing homes. So, I don't see the state having extra money. They can't fund the med school. They can't fund Medicaid. They can't fund TOPS. So, are they going to move the municipal complex down there? I question that."

After the Tuesday council meeting Paul Pratt, GDC's principal partner, explained: "What this does is just move us forward in order to engage in further conversation with the mayor to start a master plan of this waterfront development. We're very proud of the council's decision today. This is just a step to move forward."

We reached Pratt by phone on Wednesday morning, requesting an interview to help answer some of our questions.

Minutes later we received an emailed statement saying quote:

GATEWAY DEVELOPMENT CONSORTIUM IS PLEASED WITH THE SHREVEPORT CITY COUNCIL 4-3 VOTE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING REGARDING THE CROSS BAYOU POINT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT. WE COMMEND THE COUNCIL FOR ITS CONFIDENCE IN ALLOWING OUR TEAM TO BEGIN THE PROCESS OF MOVING FORWARD. (sic)

The statement was sent by Donnette Dunbar, Principal, Dash Media. When KSLA News 12 replied with a few questions, Dunbar replied:

"This is our official statement at this time."

Other questions include how much Shreveport will be asked to contribute financially?

That's especially worrisome to some taxpayers when you consider the city is still under a 12-year long Consent Decree Program with required sewer improvement projects estimated to cost a total of $350 million.

According to the city council amended the resolution, These (below) are the following provisions that shall be included (but not be limited to) in any non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with the city:

1. Within one (1) year from the date of the executed MOU, GDC shall deliver to the City a commitment from the State of Louisiana to consolidate certain State Offices within the proposed municipal complex.

2. Within one (1) year from the date of the executed MOU, GDC shall deliver to the City a report regarding onsite remediation of the project area designated as a brownfield.

3. Within two (2) years from the date of the executed MOU, GDC shall deliver to the City a commitment for financing of a minimum of 500 housing units.

4. GDC will provide the City detailed cost-benefit analyses and pro formas showing a return on City investment from assembling the lands shown in EXHIBIT 2 into one contiguous tract.

5. GDC will provide the City detailed cost-benefit analyses and pro formas showing a return on City investment from donation and/or lease City-owned land as shown in EXHIBIT 2.

6. GDC will provide the City detailed cost-benefit analyses and pro formas showing return on investment from the City providing infrastructure as-built plans, engineering data such as GIS, on-going and planned project information, Rights-of-Way (ROW) related to the land development site, streets, drainage, parks, parking, bayou waters, as well as zoning rights for the purpose of erecting buildings and other infrastructure components.

There are several noticeably absent items from any discussions about the project. First, there is no breakdown - at all - about any funding formula or funding sources - like financial backers.

But developers did say Tuesday night that most of the money would come from the private sector.

The second item noticeably absent are any images, like diagrams, or even sketches, of the project itself.

This latest Cross Bayou proposal comes just months after a similar bid from Mayor Ollie Tyler, which included a sports complex, failed.

The next step in this process is for GDC leaders to meet with the mayor and city leaders. They say they could put shovel to dirt in 18 months, but also say that's a very optimistic guess.

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