The former La Crosse Plow Co. building at 525 N. Second St. is on the National Register of Historic Places, a status that makes it eligible for tax credits when renovated. 

The owners of the historic La Crosse Plow Co. building say the city’s assessment of the building was off by more than $2 million.

JJAWC LLC filed a claim of excessive assessment Jan. 30, contending the building at 525 Second St., next to the downtown Oktoberfest grounds, and an adjacent parcel were worth a total of $172 on Jan.1, 2017, rather than the $2.05 million they were assessed at. According to the claim filed by attorney Don Millis, that would mean the company, which paid nearly $60,000 in property taxes on the two parcels, should have been charged $6 and is entitled to a refund of $59,755.

Downtown La Crosse development gets $500,000 state grant; work on $32 million project to begin this year

Kristine Cleary of JJAWC declined to comment on disputed assessed value, citing pending litigation.

La Crosse lead appraiser Patrick Burns assessed the property on behalf of the city.

“We valued what it was built for and came up with a basic value of replacement cost new, and we deduct the depreciation based upon its condition, functional obsolesce or economic obsolesce,” Burns said.

Burns said consideration was also taken for the removal of asbestos.

He estimated that he viewed the property sometime in 2010.

“We can’t view them every year, and the downtown district was looked at in 2003 and 2010,” Burns said.

The company appealed the 2017 assessment of the properties to the city’s Board of Review, which declined to adjust the assessed value. The claim was introduced Thursday during the La Crosse Common Council meeting and will go before the city’s Finance and Personnel Committee March 1 before going back to the full council.

“The council will hear it, either grant it or deny it. Then it’s the option of the parties to go to court,” Burns said.

The La Crosse Plow Co. building was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the Wisconsin Historical Society in 2016. The two-block former factory was constructed in phases between 1914 and 1938 and has been vacant since 1995. The north section was condemned in 2013 because of a crumbling roof.


La Crosse city government reporter

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.

(13) comments


Christine Cleary was given all her money by daddy and suffers from the entitlement syndrome. If most anybody else owned this junkyard the city inspection department would of condemned it long ago and had it removed.

Rick Czeczok

Cleary famil, I will purchase the property for $150,000. City you must agree on a TIF loan to clean up the environmental damage including removal of buildings and new water and sewer. I can then develop and give you the Octoberfest grounds for $$200,000 I keep the existing building site. We should have the place looking very nice in 2 years. Draw it up everyone. Then let's work on the old Mobile site. Now that was tough.....

union conservative

I get what the Cleary attorney is doing. Like the city is trying to do to the state with Lacrosse Street. The state is being responsible with their funds. If I was the state Id tell the city if you cant wait fix it yourself. As far as the Cleary building goes the city is mistaken and so is the Cleary attorney. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.


And the rich get richer. They are already getting free money to fix the building, which should have been torn down a long time ago. They should be getting a fine for not maintaining an eyesore and when it was condemned should have been made to remove the structure. I agree with whoever said the City should buy it from them for their stated value and let someone else fix up that block.

you think you know

To be fair, there is a lot of money being put into the south end of the building. That should be accounted for by all the people talking negatively about the owners.

Maybe they should focus on completing that, renting it out, then take that money to address the north end.

Rick Czeczok

But that was done only to the outside to make it look like updates were being done. Truth is the inside is a disaster and the rest of the building (north) is a travesty to the entire populous of LaCrosse. Look at all the projects around that area, and how the Cleary property is devaluating there property. Again this is the Cleary families way to get a TIF from LaCrosse to get the taxpayers of the city, to pay for there neglected building. Again shame on the Cleary family, a name that was once a very respectable name. Now just pathetic, and making Russ look really bad. He would be so disgusted. You must be so proud to be so rich and yet so greedy.


Only $172 ? Well lets look at other buildings in town like the Rubber Mills- re purposed, The many Weber projects helping downtown, and meanwhile the Owner's family cannot really come up with any vision or purpose other then whining about the taxes , So the true colors are showing-Please forget the taxes and hire a planner or sell to developer, It is a eyesore on the North portion- Please reach a decision among the family (!) and move on .

David Lee

If its only worth 172, sieze the property under public domain, give them 172 and knock down that crappy un maintained building and sell it for development to any one but the clearys.

Bucky Fan

So the shameless Clearys are at it again. First they join in with the nuts on the historical society to get the worst eye sore in La Crosse listed on the National Register of Historic Places so it can't be torn down and now they don't want to pay the taxes on it.

El Duderino

$6?! LOL Good luck with that..

Somewhere between $172 & 2 Million , at least you’re on the same page. : /


it's time for family to give up the strangle hold they have on LaCrosse

Rick Czeczok

Sorry Miss Cleary, but you either need to pay it or have it condemned either way your eye sore is going to go. You should be ashamed of how you make the city down in that area look. Russ would be so ashamed of you, I know that for a fact. I feel the city should have condemned that 20 years ago but until now you got by with it by promising to do something about it. So when you sell this property which figure are you going to use? That's what I thought!!!


I will pay 10 times your assed value for the land without blinking an eye . . . come on!?

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