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New senior center finds home in LaCrosse Footwear building

New senior center finds home in LaCrosse Footwear building

Tim Kabat at Harry J. Olson center

Mayor Tim Kabat waves a cost report that lists nearly $1.5 million in repairs for the Harry J. Olson Senior Center. The city will not renew its lease with the group at the end of its agreement in December.

A new senior center will be moving into the LaCrosse Footwear building, after the city of La Crosse Common Council approved its lease Thursday night.

The city adopted a last-minute amendment for the lease agreement with The Fenigor Group LLC that would bind it to the space for 30 months instead of three years, and lowering the annual rent for the space.

Council President Martin Gaul submitted the amendment, hoping it would aid to the larger conversation of finding a more permanent space for the senior center.

“I don’t want to set us up for failure,” Gaul said, noting that this 30-month lease would end at the same time as the current one at the Myrick Center, a space that was in early conversations to house the senior center.

La Crosse Footwear building

The La Crosse Footwear building will soon be home to a senior center.

The new lease agreement would also save the city 8.3% in rent a month if the annual rent of $93,492 is paid up front, lowering 2022’s rent to $85,701.

The new space comes as the city’s lease agreements come to a close with two other sites.

The Harry J. Olson Center’s lease with the city is set to end on Dec. 14, and while the group has the chance to purchase the building before then for just $1, it’s been revealed that the facility needs anywhere from $1.5 million to $3.9 million in repairs and renovations.

But seniors are wary about a new home in the old Rubber Mills factory, which has been transformed by the Fenigor Group into a space for apartments, a brewery, and eventually the La Crosse Tribune. And now a senior center.

No word has been given on whether the Harry J. Olson Center Board will be purchasing the facility from the city.

Concerns for the building range in a worry about location, accessibility, parking options and maintenance.

The new lease agreement includes all maintenance and repair issues in the rent, according to parks director Jay Odegaard, and the $15,000 usually allocated for expenses at Harry J. Olson would also be usable in 2021.

“It’s nice to give them special consideration,” said council member Phil Ostrem of the new space for the seniors, “because they deserve it, simple as that.”


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