Another option for county building? Associated Bank enters picture

2014-01-12T00:00:00Z Another option for county building? Associated Bank enters pictureBy BETSY BLOOM bbloom@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune

The Associated Bank building in downtown La Crosse has been raised as a potential new site for the La Crosse County Administrative Center.

The sale, however, would hinge on the county providing Associated Bank with space on its Lot C property south of the Law Enforcement Center for a new downtown office, County Administrator Steve O’Malley said Saturday night.

It’s a late-emerging option as two county committees get ready Monday to make a final recommendation on whether to renovate or sell the deteriorating administrative center.

The full county board then will have the final say Thursday.

Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions and Borton Construction want an answer this month on their $250,000 offer to buy the county building at 400 N. Fourth St. and convert it to student housing for nearby Western Technical College.

That move would put an estimated $6 million building on the tax rolls and allow the county to avoid having to deal with the asbestos sprayed throughout the building, fire-proofing  that has hindered even modest repairs and renovations.

But the county, if it sells the center, would pay about $21 million to build anew alongside its Health and Human Services building just to the south.

Remaining at and renovating the current site would cost about $21 million as well, primarily because the building would have to be virtually gutted to reach all the asbestos.

This new option of relocating and renovating 605 State St. could potentially save about $2 million, O’Malley said. An addition would be needed on the 50,000-square-foot building, but the purchase would include a parking lot on Seventh Street to replace what would be lost developing Lot C.

“We think it might be a win-win,” O’Malley said. 

He stressed that the county approached Associated Bank, which is downsizing its presence in La Crosse, about buying the building.

Representatives of the bank were willing to make the move only if they can continue to have a downtown presence on Lot C, O’Malley said.

It will become part of a larger discussion on planning the development of Lot C, which has drawn considerable interest because of its size and prime downtown location.

Monday’s joint meeting of the Administrative Center and Downtown Campus Study Committee and the Executive Committee also will include setting up a process for determining the best use of that land.

They will meet at 4:15 p.m. in room 3220 of the County Administrative Center.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. taxedout
    Report Abuse
    taxedout - January 12, 2014 9:12 am
    My vote is to keep the current administration building in use by the county. Fix it and keep it. It is a nice looking building and the county name is already on it. The location is perfect for continued county use. It seems like something else is driving the plan to build new.
    If more space is needed, the county can lease from the mostly vacant first floor of the transit center. The transit center was another push to get something built at taxpayer expense and it ended up on the opposite site of downtown from where it should be.
  2. laxcitizen
    Report Abuse
    laxcitizen - January 12, 2014 8:40 am
    more requests for the taxpayers, with little to do with the responsibility of the county ! The building for administration is fine, and as Gilligan said, it is not used to capacity right now. Take the easy way out: tax more, waste more.
  3. Gilligan
    Report Abuse
    Gilligan - January 12, 2014 5:53 am
    Everyone needs to call their county supervisor and tell them to choose "D. None of the above"!

    The existing building is fine for another 50 years. It is NOT used to capacity, and they have been neglecting routine yearly maintenance to trick you into this new scheme. O'Malley wants to build a monument to his reign. It is time to stop giving your consent to this behavior.
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