Riverside North Aerial

The Riverside North site is one of the last large undeveloped pieces of property in La Crosse.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

The city of La Crosse is in talks to purchase more than the 100,000 cubic yards of soil fill needed for the proposed Riverside North project as the planning department meets with developers interested in chipping in to remake the former Mobile Oil site.

A public charrette process in May 2014 left the city with a detailed vision for the property between Copeland Avenue and the Mississippi River, which is one of the last significant parcels of land available for development within the city; however, the $2.4 million price tag for soil fill to bring the 35-acres available for development out of flood plain has stalled the project.

Economic Development Planner Andrea Schnick told the Redevelopment Authority Thursday that the city has had offers from both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and La Crosse County Solid Waste Department to purchase four times the amount of fill needed for the project at less than market rates.

“We’re thinking that would be sometime in 2017, so we could hopefully begin the construction phase sometime in 2018,” Schnick said.

City engineer Randy Turtenwald said city staff is looking at the price for both, hoping for reduced rates due to the amount the two groups would need to offload due to upcoming projects.

“We talked about accepting more than we may need on that site and stockpiling it because we may need it in other places in the city,” Turtenwald said.

A final agreement has not yet been reached.

The city’s RDA requested expressions of interest this spring to start a dialogue with companies and individuals interested in helping the city bring its vision for the 65-acre parcel just north of downtown La Crosse to life. It received nine letters from developers in May, which included some interested in acting as a master developer and others hoping to add housing or commercial space to the area.

“To date we have had interviews with 10 companies,” Schnick said, saying they have yet to sit down with four more companies after several expressed interest following the initial buzz.

Schnick will meet with the other developers over the course of the next two weeks and provide the RDA with a summary of their proposals at a special meeting in September.

“For our interviews, we didn’t ask them to consult with an architect or get into the engineering,” Schnick said.

City staff expect further interest as the project moves forward and detailed plans will be forthcoming.

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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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