A proposal to remove a home at 622 S. Eighth St. to build a duplex took a step forward Monday after it cleared the La Crosse Plan Commission.

William Hilton of H&H Investment Properties requested a conditional-use permit to demolish the three-bedroom home and replace it with a two-story duplex in the Washburn Residential District. The permit was unanimously approved.

The house that sits on the parcel is aging and starting to fail, according to Hilton.

“The foundation is nearing the end of its life and kind of beyond repair,” Hilton said.

Hilton has looked at other options, he said, but a 30-foot-wide lot makes it difficult.

“I’d like to do a duplex and keep the single-family look to the front of it and work with (city senior planner Tim Acklin) to find out what the best thing is to replace it with,” Hilton told the plan commission.

Hilton hopes for five bedrooms total in the two units making up the duplex, but whether there will be five or four depends on whether he is able to install five off-street parking spots to meet city requirements.

Being zoned Washburn Residential means a duplex is allowed at the site without rezoning.

“The majority of the block is in some capacity a duplex or higher density. It ranges from two units to eight units,” Acklin said. “There are actually two parcels on this block that are single, owner-occupied housing.”

Allowing the duplex would be consistent with the area, he said.

No one spoke against the project at the meeting, but a neighbor registered a formal objection with the city, saying the size of the parcel wouldn’t allow for a duplex with adequate parking.

Plan Commission member Cassandra Woodward said she has heard concerns about creating another duplex in that area and asked whether Hilton had looked into other options.

However, Hilton said the only other choice for that area would be single family, which raises issues of finding a single family willing to rent a home in the middle of college student housing and whether that would fit in with the zoning ordinance.

“It’d be tough if I couldn’t find that and had to find students. I don’t think I could afford to build the structure only having three students there,” Hilton said. “And I don’t want to break the (zoning) rules.”

The project will go before the city’s Judiciary and Administrative Committee at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a public hearing. If the permit is approved by the committee and the La Crosse Common Council next week, Hilton will need to go through the design review process with the city, and approval is contingent on meeting the city’s off-street parking requirements.


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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