You are the owner of this article.
Park board OK's La Crosse Center encroachment in Riverside Park

Park board OK's La Crosse Center encroachment in Riverside Park

{{featured_button_text}}
La Crosse Center Birdseye View

This architect's rendering shows an approximation of what the La Crosse Center expansion and renovation will look like from above. The materials for the renovation haven't been chosen yet, so the appearance could change during the design phase.

La Crosse Center view from river

This architect's rendering shows an approximation of what the La Crosse Center expansion and renovation will look like from across the Mississippi River at Pettibone Park. The materials for the renovation haven't been chosen yet, so the appearance could change during the design phase.

The city park board Tuesday tentatively signed off on a concept for the $49 million La Crosse Center expansion and renovation that extends into Riverside Park, adding in a provision requiring the convention center’s board to bring back designs for final approval.

The La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners expressed concerns ranging from the cost of landscaping surrounding the expansion to what effect the windows would have on birds before unanimously voting to allow the project to infringe on the park and provide a new entrance connecting the park and second story.

The concept, developed by Gensler and ISG on behalf of the La Crosse Center Board, calls for a second-story expansion to hang 27 feet in the air and extend into Riverside Park’s southern end over Front Street, which would remain open to vehicles. Preliminary plans call for it to take up nearly half an acre of the park’s 20 total acres and prompt the removal of about 15 trees, some of which might be able to be replanted elsewhere.

Board member Marvin Wanders said the decision came down to whether the expansion would serve to enhance the park or detract from its assets.

“I think you would have a hard time making the argument that it would not add value to the park long-term, and to the citizens that use that park,” Wanders said. “Whether it’s people having a wedding here or young people graduating here or proms to take place here, the appreciation of the park would become more valuable as people use this facility.”

However, board members were concerned about the design and what would happen to the land underneath the overhang.

“This is probably the most important park in the city,” board member Sandra Cleary said. “As park board members, we want to do a thoughtful job and make sure this adds to the park and doesn’t take away. If you can do it, there’s got to be enough funds to do something with it, because we don’t want a big patch of dirt.”

However, she added, she has long heard comments that the La Crosse Center, which faces away from the Mississippi River toward Second Street, is facing the wrong way and the expansion into the park is a step in the right direction.

La Crosse Center Expansion

A stake in Riverside Park marks the parameters of a proposed expansion of the La Crosse Center that would encroach on the southern section of the park.

Cleary raised concerns that the concept as it is shows a rectangular building and asked if the design could incorporate some softer edges.

The architecture team provided updated renderings to give a better idea of what the building and the park area surrounding it will look like; however, the final design and materials have not yet been chosen. ISG landscape architect Amanda Prosser and architect Will Kratt presented some ideas for that portion of the park, keeping the river as a focus.

“We are proposing to introduce native vegetation, which will help with a whole host of things, including stormwater management, pollinators, good habitats, add color — and it also reduces mowing costs,” Prosser said.

She also proposed adding material similar to the rubber found on playgrounds underneath the overhang, as well as looking at possibilities for seating, lighting and other additions to connect the project and the park. The design elements would be subject to city approval and La Crosse Center Board chairman Brent Smith said the group will continue to take feedback.

Brent Smith

Smith

“This is a concept. If it’s approved and the design is put together by ISG and Gensler, there will be more opportunities and we’re going be back before (the park) board, we’re going to be back before the city council, we’re going to be back before the plan commission. There’s going to be a lot of public input on it,” Smith said.

The proposed renovation and expansion includes a 17,669-square-foot ballroom that will be suspended over Front Street and include an entrance from Riverside Park, as well as 12,000 square feet of additional meeting rooms. The downtown side of the building includes a new lobby, creating room to expand the bathrooms and concessions, and add corridors to connect the front and back ends of the building.

The project is estimated to cost $49 million, $42 million of which has already been allocated.


Photos: 57 iconic places in the La Crosse area

Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

0
0
0
0
4

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News