For years, La Crosse County has been looking into what to do with the aging administrative building.
Now board members are getting a first look at a proposal that would convert it into student housing for Western Technical College students.
Community leaders said the county administrative building is very old and has a lot more space than it needs, but if the space is used properly, the entire community could benefit.
“A building like this could be in a landfill, but with a project like this we'll extend the life by another 30-50 years,” said Marvin Wanders of Three-Sixty Real Estate Solutions.
Even after decades of wear and tear, Wanders said it still has potential to serve the community in a better way.
“It actually lays out extremely well for multifamily student housing,” said Wanders. “So we were fortunate that way.”
Wanders said Western Technical College has upwards of 400 students on a waiting list for housing.
He partnered with Borton Construction offering a design would transform the building to fit more than 200 beds, a rooftop seating area, community kitchen and solar-heated water.
“It's those types of amenities that are going to add value to the student's quality of life and educational outcomes,” said Wanders.
They presented the proposal to the administrative center and downtown campus study committee Thursday night.
The committee's chair, Joe Veenstra, said so far the proposal is in line with what they're hoping to do with the building.
“Whatever the ultimate use was, we wanted it to be consistent with the sort of the idea of this area downtown,” said Veenstra. “Fair to the neighbors, City Hall, W.T.C., there's a lot of interest of maintaining a vibrant downtown.”
Wanders said the change could also benefit the community by bringing in about $6.8 million in new tax revenue.
The proposal still has a ways to go before becoming official, but Wanders said the community would greatly benefit from the change.
“It adds value to the neighborhood and it adds value to the downtown businesses,” said Wanders. “There's a lot of amenities in this area and students will utilize those amenities, so it brings value.”
The proposal now has to be taken up by the executive committee and the full county board in July.
Three-Sixty Real Estate Solutions is offering $250,000 to buy the building.
The company would also have to spend another $1.5 million to get rid of asbestos.
County leaders are still discussing where to relocate everyone inside the current building.
Options could include building a smaller building on a downtown county property at either the human services building or the Court House parking lot.