Hidden Places: The La Crosse Post Office

The La Crosse Post Office is located at 425 State St. in downtown La Crosse.

The city of La Crosse has expressed an interest in purchasing part of the State Street post office to repurpose the building into a community market, a public safety facility or a combination of the two.

The current offer extended by the city for the property is $1, with the option to increase that price to the fair-market value within 60 days after approval of the building plans and construction design by U.S. Postal Service.

The La Crosse post office mail processing center has sat mostly empty since 2012, when USPS decided to shutter a portion of the facility to save money on operation costs, and now, after nearly seven years, the city is looking to repurpose the facility into a multi-use building.

Mayor Tim Kabat


“We had made some initial inquiries a couple of years ago when (USPS) announced they were going to be relocating the mail-sorting facilities to the Twin Cities and we didn’t really get too far with our questions then,” Mayor Tim Kabat said. “This year’s a more recognized or more formal process.”

USPS sent a letter of interest to the city outlining necessary requirements to get the project off the ground, including a $25,000 project initiation fee to be paid within 60 days of the sale and $50,000 to cover the cost of compliance requirements to be paid to the USPS.

The city asked the Common Council to authorize the execution of the letter of interest and to pay the initial deposit. Those actions will enable the city to work with the post office to get a better understanding of its needs to continue operations, regarding square footage and parking, during the rehabilitation and after the project’s completion.

Kabat said the goal is to keep the post office on the site and accommodate those uses as part of a redevelopment effort. But, because of the size of the facility, his hope is to add at least part of the building to the tax roll.

“Our focus really is on a public safety solution,” Kabat said. “The police department did a space needs analysis and they have about half the space they really need based on the size of their department.”

The city is also considering a public market and the La Crosse Fire Department as potential new inhabitants.

“The larger redevelopment would be potentially a mixed-use type of arrangement but our primary goals would be to retain the post office, their functions there, to have a public safety facility and then maybe other uses like a public market or a housing component,” Kabat said.

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The USPS entities included in the potential sale are the main office, customer service network processing facility, processing and distribution facility, bulk mail entry unit, passport office and district offices all located on the 3-acre downtown campus.

There’s still a lot of USPS activity in the building, such as passport services as well as sorting and distribution facilities, and one of the initial tasks of the project is to determine how much space the post office needs to continue operations after the project is underway.

Another option is for USPS to sell the entire building to the city of La Crosse and relocate to a facility of a more suitable size, according to Andrea Schnick, the city’s economic development planner.

“We need to make sure that if we do redevelop that site, it would be a seamless transition so that those services are not interrupted,” Schnick said.

The city is exploring what Schnick called creative financing options to pay for the project, to avoid raising taxes.

The post office currently stands in a tax increment district, but, according to a Wisconsin statute, TID funds cannot be used to repurpose government buildings. Funding programs for the project will need to be approved by the La Crosse Common Council before implementation.

The project is in the first of multiple phases that require communication and cooperation between USPS and the city.

“It’s really early, we’re just trying to gather the information at this point to see what would even be possible,” Kabat said.

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Data, interactive and video journalist

Elizabeth Beyer is the agriculture, data, interactive, audio and video journalist with the La Crosse Tribune.

(4) comments


Wish we could move on from the open market idea. Seems to be a theme any time a space or building becomes available. We've had one and moved it at least 4 times since I've been alive. The small little shops w/unique edibles or items, never usually survive here beyond 6 months. Doesn't seem to be a community that wants to spend the money nor seek out specialty items whether it be food or merchandise. More inclined towards Goodwill, Walmart, Farm & Fleet, or Nice Twice stores.


I agree with Daisy. If the city is going to sink real money in a project, get a viable and solid business.

Rick Czeczok

How about selling it to someone who can put it back on the tax roles. But then again the council would give them a TIF grant which means no taxes for LaCrosse general fund for 26 years. We as citizens can not win with this group leading the city.


Yea, we didn't win with the LHI development did we Czeczok? That was what, over a thousand people paying taxes and buying things in Lacrosse that wouldn't have been happening otherwise? Yea, the citizens can't win.

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