Sunday, September 23, 2018

Settle: Latest Curtis Joseph development proposal another ‘pie in the sky’ project?

The last time it was a billion-dollar Cross Bayou dream. This time it’s a $240 million mirage for the abandoned Shreveport Country Club.

Local attorney Curtis Joseph has seemingly embarked on a new career as a real estate developer.

It all started when Joseph was appointed by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler to the Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).

Actually his road to fame and riches began with Tyler took office as mayor. In her first few weeks, she moved substantial legal work from Ron Lattier to Joseph and his law partner Mary Winchell.

After his MPC appointment, Joseph aligned himself with MPC President Theron Jackson on key votes. And then Jackson and Joseph teamed up with Paul Pratt to form Gateway Development Consortium.

Gateway presented their Cross Bayou plan to the Shreveport City Council a few months back. The Council voted 5 to 4 in favor of a resolution urging Tyler to execute a much discussed, and cussed, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

As expected, the MOU is gathering dust on Tyler’s desk.

The new project that Joseph is now pushing is as ambitious, or foolhardy, as the Cross Bayou dream.

This time Joseph has teamed up with Chariot Companies. Chariot has a contract to purchase the golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, and country club building lock, stock and barrel.

For starters, part of the golf course will be salvaged for a golf academy.

Add to that a hotel, restaurant and event center, an office building, single family housing and multifamily apartment complex.

Joseph’s presentation to a neighborhood gathering had many unanswered questions.

One was if the apartment complex was designed to be Section 8 housing. Another was where would the people relocate from for all the housing development. And then what is the economic viability of a hotel off the beaten path — that being Greenwood Road

Joseph will make a pitch to the MPC Board today for approval of a zoning change for a planned unit development (PUD). Joseph should recuse himself from the Board vote. Any zoning change must then be approved by the Council.

A question that will certainly be asked by the Council will be what participation if any is expected from the City of Shreveport to make this project happen.

If no public bucks involved, then no problem and best wishes for success.

But if the City will be required to develop infrastructure, one can expect a battle as heated as the two Cross Bayou projects.

John Settle is a Shreveport-Bossier political columnist. You can read more at www.settletalk.com