Kenner unveils new sign and sculpture for Laketown _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Kenner officials including Mayor Mike Yenni, right of sign, and Councilman District 3 Keith M. Reynaud, left of sign, at an LED sign at the entrance to the city's Laketown district in August 2014.

Kenner officials on Wednesday unveiled the sign and sculpture that will adorn the entrance to the city’s Laketown district, which officials say is on the cusp of further retail and entertainment development.

The $1 million project includes LED lighting, landscaping and underwater irrigation from Vintage Drive to the Pontchartrain Center.

Although it was funded by a hotel-motel tax dedicated to Laketown, the project is billed by the city as the first part of Kenner 2030, a revitalization plan that will use sales-tax revenue bonds to fund $28 million in improvements to corridors throughout the city.

The 16-foot steel Laketown sign sits in the median of Williams Boulevard at Vintage Drive along with a stainless steel sculpture by artist Frank Ledbetter titled “Drying and Dreaming.”

In a news release, Mayor Mike Yenni called it “a grand entrance to an area that will become the envy of the metro region,” a reference to the city’s plans to entice retail and entertainment developments to the area.

In 2012 the city annexed 80 state-owned acres on the lakefront from Jefferson Parish for Laketown, and the Legislature approved a plan to allow commercial development on the site, which now includes a park, pier and boat launch on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.

Laketown also is home to the Coconut Beach volleyball courts, and the city has been talking with Boyd Gaming about getting the nearby Treasure Chest Casino involved in the development.

Yenni has said he’d ultimately like to see a hotel and condominiums come to Laketown.

Williams Boulevard will see further improvements between the Mississippi River and the lake through the Kenner 2030 plan and other projects designed to make it safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

Kenner 2030 will upgrade the intersection of Airline Drive and Williams with safety and pedestrian enhancements as well as a new sign for Rivertown to the south.

A $352,000 project to make pedestrian improvements on the east side of Williams between Veterans and 32nd Street is now underway, and a second phase will extend the improvements to West Napoleon, said Kenner spokesman Bob Ross.

Ross said the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission and state officials are looking into potential improvement projects for Williams between Airline and West Metairie.