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.