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Work starting on $70 million Lake Area employee village on port property

A private company broke ground Tuesday for a $70 million housing facility it plans to build on port property to meet the area’s projected workforce demands.

The construction of the temporary employee village, named Pelican Lodge, is expected to bring in 400 jobs. But once completed, in mid-2015, it could be home to as many as 4,000 construction workers.

In June, the Port Board unanimously approved a lease option agreement. Bill Rase, port executive director, said efforts like these “put Southwest Louisiana on the map” internationally.

Over the next five years, more than 15,000 construction jobs are expected to come from the more than $47 billion worth of investments in Southwest Louisiana.

“In order for these projects to be successful we have to have a place for workers to stay that is similar to home,” Rase said. “It’s not just a boarding house.”

Details of the plans, which include a baseball field, basketball courts and several different dining options, were first released in April.

Greenfield Logistical Solutions of Louisiana LLC will build the facility on 200 acres of port land at 1100 James Sudduth Parkway. Sammy Pate, project manager and partner with GLS, said the housing is so much more than a “traditional man camp.”

The plan includes daily meals and transportation to and from work for residents. GLS is looking at having five double-decker buses that can transport 80 people per bus. That will be 80 fewer cars per bus on the road going to the various sites, Rase said, adding rent will be $130 per day.

Through the lease agreement, the port is set to make $360,000 per year, as well as a percentage from the number of “heads on beds,” Rase has said. The port will get a dollar a day for each resident. At full capacity, Pelican Lodge could mean an additional $1.46 million a year for the port.

Unit fabrication will be done in Houston, and the facility will be set up in Lake Charles in three phases.

Pate said solidification of the project comes on the heels of collaborative efforts by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, Sowela Technical Community College, McNeese State University, state legislators, the port, the parish and the city of Lake Charles.

By Lance Traweek, American Press

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