A few days ago Kristian Bland noted that lakefront development gets talked about a whole lot, but as evidenced by the empty Harrah's parking garage not much big happens and he suggested and made a good argument for our favorite choice for Beaver Nugget binges a Buccee's. (The Harrah's Garage is Cool and All, But How About A Buccee's?)

And sure enough, some travelers-by only lasting impression of the town might be the eyesore, mindlessly pooh-pooing it in disdain at 60 mph not knowing that once upon a time the sad building was a gleaming state-of-the-art example of all a multi-tiered parking garage could possibly be.

Harrah's Parking Garage - Lake Charles, Louisiana
Harrah's Parking Garage - 900 I10 East Service Road, Lake Charles, Louisiana

It was once told to me that about the most expensive part of a building is usually the concrete work. And as we can all see this building has withstood some of the best punches mother nature can throw so it seems sturdy enough to the casual observer and backyard chicken coop civil engineer that the really expensive part is already done, and the building is simply a skeleton waiting for fresh ideas to flesh out a new life for it.

After all, it is lakefront property alongside an interstate in a realty world whose three bywords are location, location, location.

Free Ideas For Local Entrepreneurs 

So here in no particular order of importance from the wanderings of the mind during the seventh inning stretch during an Astros game are four more suggestions for the now derelict garage, which already contains at least two if not three elevators.

The afore-mentioned Buccees

A multi-floored mini-mall. Parking on floors 1 & 2 then shops to the top with a nice food court on the top floor overlooking the lake.

A car dealership – wouldn’t it be nice to stroll around during summer’s 10 months here in the shade with a lake breeze swirling through, and sitting in your potential new car without opening its door to a 140° blast of new car smell?

Floor to ceiling glass windows and fancy lighting can give the new vehicles that showroom glamor the sellers strive for and rain would never hinder you from finding the wheels of your dreams. Plus you can motor right onto I10 and open her up some on the test drive before deciding whether to buy.

By the same token, a boat dealership could occupy a floor or two as most popular runabouts would fit in the low clearance, and of course, there’s the lake for test drives of models moored at the dock.

Perhaps it’d be a swell spot for a permanent dock for the USS Orleck and the sometimes hoped for and talked about Hurricane Museum of the Gulf Coast. The structure obviously has withstood some recent whoppers and might just make a dandy museum in honor of the swirly monsters.

The USS Orleck would look nice right up front on I-10 for the tourists. They could pull over and visit it and the Hurricane Museum too, then have a bite on the roof overlooking the lake before continuing on their trip.

As a hurricane museum, horizontal blue lines could be painted along the lower support columns showing the deepest water depth the building ever sustained. Visitors would be awed wondering how they'd have survived in it, it'd be engaging and thrilling.

The good news is, even if nothing happens and the building simply deteriorates it'll still make a good future locale for one of those neverending series of post-apocalyptic Planet of the Apes movies.

At the very least how about a zip line from the top of the garage to the civic center, that'd be fun.

So whaddya say? Great location, super lake views, the majority of the superstructure is complete, loads of extra parking, interstate services on frontage, rail services nearby, city water, gas and electric available, hundreds of thousands of outdoor accessible yet weather protected square feet in shopping space. Regional industrial projects on the ground and drawing board promise a rising local economy and increased tourism for years to come yada yada yada.

It's really a no-brainer and hard to believe it's been vacant this long.

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