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Lease for Riverside Park hatchery building moves forward with some amendments

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Riverside hatchery building lease moves forward

Fencing surrounding the former fish hatchery building in Riverside Park this fall. A lease for the building which would allow for a wedding and event venue at the site is moving through the La Crosse Common Council this month.

Developers of Hatchery, LLC, have plans to use the former fish hatchery building as an event venue and Airbnb rental, and this lease is one of the final steps in the process.

The nine-year lease binds the group to a rent rate of $2,200 a month for four years, and more than doubling for the remainder of the lease.

The commission on Monday made two amendments to the lease, which was last approved by the Board of Park Commissioners in October.

Notably, an item that would have allowed Hatchery to claim rent credits for capital improvements to the site has been deleted.

City staff said that at the time of negotiations, the city did not have the funds to replace the building’s HVAC system, and this would have created a mechanism for the developers to do that with some reimbursement. But the city has since freed up the funds to do the project itself, leaving no reason for the exchange to be built into the lease.

New language more clearly allowing the city to access the property was also included by the commission.

The contract, which is tied to a development and use of the building that has been hotly debated among officials and the community, was approved with council member Scott Neumeister in opposition.

It now heads before the Finance & Personnel Committee on Thursday night and the La Crosse Common Council for a final vote next Thursday, and is expected to face some more opposition along the way.

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