City develops new plan to fill vacant former Naval Reserve lot

Published On: Mar 28 2013 06:14:51 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 28 2013 06:40:41 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

The land where a Naval Reserve Building used to sit on the South side of La Crosse may soon be called home by close to 10 families.

A new plan heading to the city council for approval next week would turn the vacant lot into what's called a "pocket neighborhood."

2224 Green Bay Street is home for Robert Towner.

"We've been here about oh 12 or 14 years something like that," said Towner.

Which makes the empty former Naval Reserve Lot his neighbor.

"That was a naval reserve they practiced over there they were real good neighbors," said Towner.

Now Towner hopes the city can come up with a plan will fill the empty lot and bring him some new neighbors.

"We're kind of anxious to see how it's going to turn out," said Towner.

The City has put the lot up for bid a number of times but developers weren't interested in building single-family homes.

"Folks have said we could build 12 twindos there but that's not what the neighbors want or we'd love this for a multifamily site and that's not what the neighbors want," said La Crosse City Planner Larry Kirch.

"People are hoping for owner-occupied single family homes," said La Crosse District  14 Council Member Paul Medinger.

The city came up with a new plan they hope will be more marketable but still be a good fit for the community, it's called a pocket neighborhood.

"What we're looking at now, it would be 10 to 12 smaller homes that would have shared green space landscaping but it would still be single family owner-occupied homes, which is what we've been looking for all along," said Medinger.

It would also mean some extra income for the city.

"The city could really use the tax base," said Kirch.

"We've got to try and keep our tax rate down a little bit and the more people paying taxes the better off we'll be I guess for us old folks," said Towner.

Once the homes are built, Towner says it won't take long for people to want to move into the neighborhood he loves.    

"Everything is handy here. It's close to the banks and the grocery stores and shopping centers, bus line, right on the bus line, so it's real handy for anybody," said Towner.

The city says it will be the developer if no builders jump on the new design.

City officials say they'll partner with Western Technical College and Central High School's building programs to fill this lot.

The proposal will go to the City Planning commission on Monday and then on to the Finance Committee next Thursday.