Mayor Tyler: Cross Bayou project too good to miss

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few days about the proposed multi-use development along Cross Bayou. I want to weigh in on the discussion and let the citizens know why I believe this is important for our city.

This project is much more than a sports complex. It is a mixed-use development that would include private investment for a much-needed a 200-room key hotel and multi-family residential to energize downtown, and office space along with retail and restaurant amenities. This project would expand our riverfront development from Festival Plaza and the Shreveport Aquarium to Cross Bayou.

This plan is part of the much larger citizen-inspired Shreveport-Caddo Master Plan. The master plan, which was formally adopted by the City Council and Caddo Parish Commission, involved input from more than 1,000 citizens. It specifically cites the revitalization of Cross Bayou as a driver to spur economic development. Other cities across the country have used their natural waterways as a catalyst to grow their economy.

Map of $150 million-plus, mixed-use Cross Bayou project

Map of $150 million-plus, mixed-use Cross Bayou project proposed by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler.?(Photo: From City of Shreveport presentation.)

When we received the invitation to respond to the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans' request for proposal for their G-League team, my first questions were, "Can our city support this? And, is it good for our community?" So, I charged my staff with getting those questions answered.

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As my staff did the due diligence, private partners came to us offering to develop a multi-use area surrounding a sports complex for the Pelicans.

As the leader of this city, when I considered the potential this project could have on improving the economic landscape in our entire city and in our region, I would have been remiss to single-handedly dismiss this opportunity and not at least bring it forth for legislative consideration.

My vision that Shreveport become a thriving city where every citizen is afforded a safe environment, economic opportunity, education and training, and a great quality of life is still paramount for this administration.

Ground floor plan of the sports complex proposed Aug.

Ground floor plan of the sports complex proposed Aug. 22 by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler as part of a $150-million, mixed use development from the Red River along Cross Bayou on the north side of downtown.?(Photo: City of Shreveport)

To that effort, we have made some great strides and will continue to do so throughout my term. This administration is not asking citizens to choose between infrastructure improvements, safety or economic development in our city. I truly believe that our citizens deserve all an investment in infrastructure and public safety, as well as job creation. This type of growth equates to an increased quality of life for today's citizens as well as for future generations.

Over the last two-and-half years, we have spent more than $46 million in street improvements and approximately $150 million in completed and ongoing water and sewer projects.

This administration has also invested in the Shreveport Police Department to combat crime with $4.5 million for new police cruisers over the past two years, $150,000 in added overtime this year, 2 percent raises each year and more officers on the streets with a projected 50 new police recruits this year.

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One of the best ways to combat crime in any community is to provide economic development opportunities. Job creation and growth are known commodities and influencers in decreasing criminal activity.

The funds that would be utilized for the sports complex were already specifically dedicated for the purpose of economic development along our riverfront. There would be no new taxes or costs to citizens. The City of Shreveport will seek revenue bonds backed by the Riverfront Development Fund to finance the sports complex.

Concourse level plan of the sports complex proposed

Concourse level plan of the sports complex proposed Aug. 22 by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler as part of a $150-million, mixed use development from the Red River along Cross Bayou on the north side of downtown.?(Photo: City of Shreveport)

We must invest in ourselves in order to grow our city. On this project we have private investors who are ready to bring outside dollars and expertise into our community. The G League is also backed by major partners including Gatorade, Nike, the NBA and the Benson Family. Never before has a sports team in our area had the national support that comes with the NBA Pelicans' G-League.

These partners have come to the table with an understanding that if the city invests in them, they have to invest in our city.

Corporate Realty, an organization with a proven track record of success in similar markets, will work as a private partner to develop the mixed-use properties to complement the sports complex. Their private investment will exceed $100 million and will invigorate a section of our city that currently generates no revenue for its citizens.

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The construction of a development like this means jobs and opportunity, and it provides an avenue to touch countless lives and to lift our entire region. I sincerely believe that when the outside world sees that the City of Shreveport is taking such bold steps, it will take note and other investments will follow.

Some would question if this area can support sports. The citizens have supported quality sporting events in the past and will continue to do so with the professional, exciting games that the NBA G League team would bring to the area. Look at the past success of the Shreveport Captains when they were affiliated with the San Francisco Giants.

The Pelicans believe in Shreveport. The Benson family believes in Shreveport. The NBA believes in Shreveport. Corporate Realty believes in Shreveport. Now it's time we all come together and believe in ourselves. I need your support to positively impact Shreveport for our children, our grandchildren and for future generations.

-by Shreveport Times