The old Harrah’s Casino parking garage on the lakefront has been an eyesore for many years. There are approximately 90,000 daily crossings over the I-10 Calcasieu River bridge. To most, the old peach-colored overgrown parking garage covered in graffiti is the first thing they notice.

I have had friends visit from out of town and at their first glance of the structure, quickly ask what it is. After explaining to them it was once home to Lake Charles’ first riverboat casino, they just kind of stare in disbelief.

Many ideas and concepts have been thrown around throughout the years about how to revive the area surrounding the old parking garage. In August of 2019, Lake Charles City Council members voted and accepted a proposed $20 million construction project that will ultimately be named Port Wonder.

It is expected to house the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Science Center and Educational Complex. There is even talk about a covered fishing pier, walking trail, and enhanced alligator pond.

Mayor Nic Hunter said there are plans to connect the boardwalk to the Civic Center and to Port Wonder. Crying Eagle Brewery will also be a staple on the lakefront landscape with its new lakefront restaurant and microbrewery.

I was excited to see barges and cranes arrive to the site on Monday. It has been the first sign of progress since the property was closed off fifteen years ago following Hurricane Rita.

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