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Disagreement on hotel proposal for Fontainebleau state park

Disagreement on hotel proposal for Fontainebleau state park
July 15
14:23 2019

COVINGTON, Louisiana.: A dispute is developing in Louisiana over whether a hotel and conference center should be developed at a state park.
A study paid for by the St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission says the project should be built at Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville.

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that the proposed lodge and conference center would offer views of Lake Pontchartrain. It is projected to generate $1.8 million in cash flow in 2021, its first year. That’s projected to grow to nearly $2.3 million by 2025.
Critics of the plan say it will draw commerce away from existing businesses in Slidell and Covington. They also question the need for more revenue at a park that they said brings in $1.3 million a year, with expenses of $1.2 million.

The $28,000 feasibility study by Pinkowski & Co. is upbeat about the prospects for the proposed hotel, listing nine advantages such as its proximity to retail, dining and entertainment options and the Pelican Park/Castine Center complex, as well as its location in a state park.
The project would diversify the local lodging market, the study says, arguing that the North Shore Harbor Center near Slidell is currently underused for conferences because of a lack of nearby hotel space.

The study cites only two disadvantages: questions about what sort of room rates the facility can charge and the poor performance of the local lodging market.
In fact, it points to the market’s weak performance as a factor that will prevent any new competition, saying it’s “doubtful that there will be any new hotels built in the market in the near future”.

Ernest Burguieres, a former Mandeville City Council member, is among skeptics of the plan. He points to the recent closure of the Clarion Inn and Suites on US 190, saying that all north shore hotels are struggling. Lacey Osborne, president and CEO of the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, said the study’s findings will be presented to the chamber’s board. “We are going into it with an open mind. This is not a brand-new idea; it’s something that has been talked about for a year,” she said. AP

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