Spies Construction will move forward with plans to turn the site of a former naval reserve center into single-family homes after a city committee Tuesday approved a developer’s agreement to sell the city-owned land.

The La Crosse Community Development Committee unanimously approved the agreement to sell the vacant lot at 2226 Green Bay St. to Spies Construction for $120,000 with the understanding that the local developer will build 10 single-family homes within five years of closing on the sale.

The agreement was the result of nearly two years of negotiations; the committee chose Spies Construction in March 2016 to develop the 1½-acre lot, where a naval reserve building was built in 1949. The Navy walked away from the building in 2008 after significant flood damage in August 2007 dampened hopes that it could be re-purposed.

Dolores Spies of Spies Construction is eager to get going.

“I have a vision of what it’s going to look like, in my head, not on paper,” Spies said. “Once it’s done, it’s just going to be a neat little neighborhood. We’ve got a lot of people interested in it already.”

The location is perfect, she added.

The proposal calls for cottage-style homes with attached garages in the back off a shared driveway.

Under the terms of the agreement, construction will start in June after the city installs water and sewer and rezones the land from residential to traditional neighborhood development.

“The idea was that after the developers agreement was signed, then the city would go forward with replatting it and then putting in the water and sewer and then work with the developer to get the rezoning. Once all that was done, then we’d do the closing,” said city environmental planner Lewis Kuhlman.

The agreement includes a requirement for Spies to pay a performance deposit of $12,000 to the city, which will be returned in five years, provided all 10 homes are completed.

“It’s just sort of money to ensure they’re going to do the project. If they back out, we’ll keep that money and likely use that money to restore the site or resell it,” said Kuhlman.

Originally, the proposal for homes on the lot was put forward by both Spies and Shelter Development; however, the latter was unable to move forward with the project.

Chuck Berendes, vice president of Shelter Development, said the group was uncomfortable with some of the city’s standard contractual language to protect itself from liability, which coincided with leadership changes at the organization.

“We were hoping to have a role and we wanted to provide some housing, but felt we were maybe a little bit at risk,” Berendes said.

The proposal was altered slightly, eliminating a building that would have housed two apartments and a community room and replacing it with more homes.

“They allowed Spies to use the space that would have gone to those two apartments to build three other houses,” Kuhlman said.

Spies will pay $20,000 at closing and $25,000 upon beginning the construction of each of the first four homes for the city lot.


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.

(3) comments


Another Property Management enterprise will buy every dwelling, and then rent out to La Crosse's finest illicit entrepreneurs.


Hope they leave enough room to build their new fire station when the time comes...

Rick Czeczok

El. What's the matter with you? That would take some though, it's just simpler to spend more tax money down the road.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access for the month.

Now it's time to activate or sign up for unlimited access!

Thank you for signing up!

We have not been able to find your subscription.

Current Subscriber?

Current Subscriber?


Don't have a subscription?