Groundbreaking marks first step in River Point District development – WEAU

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – A La Crosse project decades in the making is finally getting underway.

A groundbreaking event Tuesday marked the beginning of the River Point District’s development.

Developers and city officials hope the multipurpose site will provide many different opportunities for the community.

“Public access, waterfront access…mixed-use housing, multi-family housing, business opportunities, senior housing, low-income housing is on the table as well,” Redevelopment Authority Chair Adam Hatfield detailed. “When I talk about inclusion, it’s really making sure that this site functions at its best for the most people.”

The La Crosse Redevelopment Authority began buying parcels of land in 1995 to eventually develop into the district.

The City took years creating the master plan for the 65-acre space, which included plenty of input from the community.

“The community in 2014 said these are the types of things that we see could be possible,” Hatfield said. “The city said pretty clearly: green space, public waterfront access, a mix of housing, a mix of retail, and a mix of access points.”

One of those community members who offered suggestions was Senior Project Engineer Randy Sanford.

Sanford says the goal was to create a space that would benefit the community, while not hurting the downtown area.

“We as a community didn’t want to have this new development compete with the downtown, so this is going to be a sustainable, unique area that complements the downtown area,” Sanford added.

Phase one of the project will soon be underway, which includes filling the site with enough dirt to raise it at least two feet above the 100-year floodplain.

Sanford says it will take over 200,000 cubic yards of dirt and nearly the rest of the year to complete.

“It’s about a four-and-a-half-month process and then just before winter comes this site will be buttoned-up before the freeze,” Sanford said.

The dirt will be dredged from the Brownsville, MN area, and about 12,000 truckloads will be hauled to the site.

Once the fill process is complete construction can begin, and Hatfield says discussions are underway to attract developers to the site.

“We’re looking at creating $110 million of new tax base here, that’s the goal,” Hatfield said. “We’re incenting developers to come in and say plant you’re flag here in La Crosse, we’re doing big things here and we want you to be a part of it too.”

Initial infrastructure improvements will be financed with a $3 million bond from First National Bank of Bangor.

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