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Riverside North Aerial

The Riverside North site is one of the last large undeveloped pieces of property in La Crosse.

The Weber Group, Gerrard Hoeschler and River Architects are among nine developers that have expressed interest in working with the city of La Crosse to develop Riverside North.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority requested expressions of interest, or RFEI, this spring to start a dialogue with companies and individuals interested in helping the city bring its vision for the 65-acre parcel just north of downtown La Crosse to life. It received nine letters from developers, which included some interested in acting as a master developer and others hoping to add housing or commercial space to the area.

Committee chairman Edward Prztarski was pleased to see the variety of interest, from small and large, local and outside developers, which he said would be “critical” to the project’s success.

“It was nice to see the perspective that we have not only local people but others,” Prztarski said.

City planner Jason Gilman will begin to meet face-to-face with developers in the next two months to learn more about their specific interests, levels of investment and whether any hope to serve as a master developer.

“We’re starting with that early dialogue to find out what the market can sustain and what the market is and what they’d expect to see from the city,” Gilman said.

As the project moves forward, Gilman will ask developers to come before the group to interview; however, he said the panel likely won’t pick a single developer to tackle the whole project.

“My guess is that as this process unfolds, we are going to find that there is going to be some synergy between the different groups, so it won’t be that we pick one and everybody else loses,” Gilman said. “It probably won’t be that type of a proposition.”

Among those interested is The Weber Group, which is responsible for the Riverside Center projects, Charmant Hotel and the Belle Square development currently under construction on the former La Crosse County Lot C property. According to a letter to the city’s planning department, the group’s vice president, Nick Weber, is interested in working with Kubala Washatko Architects Inc. to create a mixed-use urban development plan to expand upon a master site plan created during a weeklong public planning exercise two years ago.

The charrette in May 2014 left the city with a detailed vision for the property between Copeland Avenue and the Mississippi River, which is one of the last significant parcels of land available for development within the city; however, the $2.4 million price tag for soil fill to bring the 35-acres available for development out of flood plain has stalled the project.

Rick Staff of Gerrard Hoeschler and Shelter Development was also among those who expressed interest, writing that he would explore options to build upon the master plan and incorporate a concert hall and gallery in the northwest corner of the space. Staff’s letter to the city also indicated he has plans to explore opportunities to collaborate with University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s River Studies Center, which would allow students to study the three rivers — Mississippi, Black and La Crosse — that flow through the area.

River Architects is interested in a comparatively smaller project, potentially taking on the design and development of a new corporate headquarters for Authenticom, the downtown La Crosse business that employs more than 120 people.

Others who expressed interest include Joe Van Aelstyn, Americon-Three Amigos Development, Nicolai Development, Wired Properties, MSP Cos. and Rosewood Development of Holmen.

“I think we’ll have more interest trickling in as we move forward,” Gilman said.

According to Gilman, any city investment will likely be funded through a reverse tax increment financing deal, where developers would commit to doing the first phase of the project, then the tax base, or increment, created by the first phase would pay for the infrastructure needed.


City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(9) comments


i too am interested. runnin a bit light these days


When you look at the aerial photo you can see the way the water has been shifted to run straight across all that pavement. The only natural place in the whole region has a bit of overflow and backwater. If this is truly where the three rivers come together, why wouldn't we treasure it and preserve it in any way we can? Myrick Park and Hixon Forest are great places to visit. The idea of parks aren't to have trophy areas, but areas where preservation of the natural systems can maintain the health of the ecosytem, the groundwater, and thus the city. There are enough people in LaCrosse who love the land, I'd love to see some of them come forward with some way of preserving this piece of it!


Let's hope you don't have to be a Weber or a Cleary or dirt poor to have a chance at any residential development that might happen?


it needs to be prettied up a biy but I don't want so see nothing by cement there either. It must be nice to have money like that.


Where are all you people who are so concerned about the marsh having a little development. This area would make a great marsh and you wouldn't have to worry about a road going thru it.


What is wrong with leaving it undeveloped, must every inch of land be covered in cement? Turn it into a nature preserve or something that people could enjoy sightseeing in., Hixton Forest is not exactly friendly territory to those who don't do well climbing or hiking.


You're right, they should have a park down by the river for people to enjoy, maybe call it Riverside Park or something like that. Or maybe if you're looking for something with more nature, kind of swampy, we could name the park after the first La Crosse settler, Nathan Myrick.


It is River Architects, not Riverside Architects. My question is, "Which plan generates the most property tax dollars?" That is the one that should be considered as a high priority. We have enough hotel rooms, parking spaces, and apartments.


My guess is that it's going to be done closed doors and Weber will get it for $25k and then get millions in tiff money. Next question.... when does the general pubic get a chance to own prime real estate and pennies on the dollar??? This one is going to cost the city millions again !!!

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