WTC green space

Western Technical College wants to take down the houses at 314 and 320-322 N. Eighth St. to create green space.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

A La Crosse committee Tuesday approved the demolition of two Eighth Street properties and a measure to allow businesses to sell beer two hours earlier in the morning.

The Judiciary and Administrative Committee unanimously approved Western Technical College’s request for a permit to knock down 314 and 320-322 N. Eight St. to create green space.

Western director of facilities Jay McHenry said the college purchased the properties earlier this summer with plans to remove them.

“We’re not looking to any facilities, no parking, just retaining and maintaining a nice green space for the next couple years,” McHenry said.

The two rental properties had no tenants when the college bought them.

“Knowing they were going to be removed, we tried to maximize the benefits to others before they became landfill material,” McHenry said.

Western brought in La Crosse Habitat for Humanity to remove any items that it could repurpose or sell at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and then allowed the La Crosse Fire Department to use the buildings for training.

“We have a contractor ready to go as soon as we have the green light from the city,” McHenry said.

The demolition was delayed after the city notified Western the properties were not within its campus boundaries; however, that has since been addressed.

“We have new campus boundaries that now do have these two properties on our campus master plan,” McHenry said.

The permit was approved on the condition that Western pays a payment in lieu of taxes on the vacant property by next week’s La Crosse Common Council meeting. McHenry said Western is reviewing the agreement.

In another vote, the committee voted to allow Class A alcohol license holders to sell fermented malt beverages at 6 a.m., rather than 8 a.m.

The vote changes the ordinance regulating liquor licenses, which allows Class A premises to remain open for regular business at all hours but prohibits the sale of beer between midnight and 8 a.m. Under the change, beer would not be sold between midnight and 6 a.m.

Council member Gary Padesky said the change would benefit people who work third shift, getting off work in the early morning hours.

“While it’s 6 a.m., it really is more like 6 p.m. for them,” Padesky said.

Council member Patrick Brever called the change “a personal freedom issue” before voting in favor.

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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

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