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Hub on Sixth rendering

An architect’s rendering of plans for the former La Crosse County Administration Center, which is being converted into a 113-unit housing development with first-floor retail space.

The asbestos is gone, along with about 80 tons of walls and a jail’s worth of steel. Now the former La Crosse County Administration Center is poised to become the downtown’s newest housing addition.

Stizo Development, a partnership of Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions and Borton Construction, held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday to celebrate completion of the demolition stage. Construction of the $15.5 million project is expected to take about 10 months.

Originally planned as student-oriented housing, the “Hub on Sixth” has morphed into a mixed-use development that will combine 113 housing units with ground-floor commercial space.

“It’s morphed into a much bigger project,” said Borton president Paul Borsheim.

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Downtown construction

A construction worker cleans up on the second level of the former La Crosse County Administration Center. With the demolition nearly complete, crews are preparing to add two floors that will include luxury condos to go along with 95 apartments.

Workers are preparing to add two floors that Three Sixty CEO Marvin Wanders hopes will house 18 condominiums in addition to apartments being targeted at young professionals who want to live in a growing downtown.

The two-story lofts are expected to sell for $240,000 to $350,000 and will feature full glass walls. Buyers also can modify the base units.

Wanders said he avoided building condos after his 44-unit Three Rivers Plaza project hit the market in 2006, shortly before the housing market collapse. But since starting on the administrative center, he has heard from people who wanted to live downtown but didn’t want to rent.

The remaining apartments are expected to rent for $700 to $1,200 a month and will feature patios. The building design also includes a fitness center and a rooftop basketball court as well as 26 underground parking stalls. (Additional above-ground and off-site parking will also be provided.)

The developers also amended the plans to include space for a restaurant or retail store on the first floor.

Borsheim said sustainability is a key component of the project.

Rubble from the walls was crushed for aggregate. The steel from the former jail, which took three workers a month to dismantle, has been recycled. The building will use a central hot water system and high-efficiency lighting and will include a 148-kilowatt solar system on the roof.

Stizo began removing asbestos in March. Demolition started in September and finished about two months ahead of schedule thanks to a pair of remote-controlled robots from Interstate Sawing.

“We planned five months for demo,” Wanders said. “It did it in five weeks.”

Wanders said the robots saved on labor costs and were safer than manual demolition.

“If a wall falls on a robot that’s not good,” he said. “If a wall falls on a person that’s really really bad.”

Constructed in 1965 as a courthouse and jail, the building housed county administrative offices since 1997.

In a move that stirred some controversy, the county board voted to sell the building for $250,000 rather than spend an estimated $18 million to remove asbestos and renovate it, and then purchased and remodeled the former Associated Bank building as part of a $23 million campus reorganization that was connected to the sale of a parking for the $68 million Belle Square development.

Andrea Schnick, economic development director for the city of La Crosse, said the Hub on Sixth, which will add at least $10.5 million to the city’s tax base, is the “last piece in the quadfecta of change” for the area and will bring additional residents and consumers into the downtown.

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Former La Crosse County building moves into construction phase

Louise Olson of Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions and Va You Yang of Verve check out the view from what will be the loft apartments.

The addition of condos will require permission from the city, which has pledged to contribute $1.3 million in tax increment financing — essentially a credit against the additional $290,000 per year in property taxes the development is expected to generate.

Wanders expects city leaders will approve the change, which he expects will generate even more in tax revenue.

“This only adds value to our urban core,” he said.

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Reporter

Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things.

(9) comments

Buggs Raplin

Anyone notice that the original proposals for Belle Square and the Old Courthouse differ substantially from what has occurred?

let it go

Will there be any available housing for the homeless? These people like to live downtown and would rent if it was affordable.

laxlax

Haters keep hating!!! This project is a boost for downtown. All of the projects downtown that are sprucing it up are positives. Don't be mad because you aren't personally benefiting from it.

oducks55

And who is benefiting? It's really easy to say that a project is a "positive" without giving any additional support for your argument, it's another thing to make a stance and, at the very least, TRY to make your argument strong.

oducks55

In addition, this should certainly help the North-South corridor issue. Everybody knows that more people and vehicles in a tight space means less traffic, right?

oducks55

So we're packing more people and vehicles into an already densely populated area but we're not improving the transportation infrastructure? What is being done to alleviate this certain headache?

Everybody sees these fancy new buildings and updates to the downtown area but any critically-thinking adult can see that this rapid urbanization is stripping La Crosse of it's small city charm. Those who pose to benefit financially off these endeavors know this but they just don't care. Why would they if they're swimming in cash? The rich get richer while the rest of us sit in traffic until we die.

arhino1

once again i ask...apparently we are creating more tax base but our taxes remain the same or higher...why doesnt it go down? because lacrosse has a spending problem not a tax problem.

canman

This building was originally designed to be able to have floors added, but the county board neglected that information in a rush to appease Weber and their desire for a new shiny office building that was actually smaller. Dam the taxpayers, full speed ahead Tara said. So by giving away lot 3 and the old courthouse, what does the county do in the future? Brilliant descision for the county taxpayers, spend 23 million on Associated and how much on the human services building addition. The City of La Crosse is the big winner in tax base revenue on Lot3, but the county taxpayers were duped into paying for a new office building for Tara.

Buggs Raplin

A 113 unit apartment complex with 26 underground parking stalls?

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