It's a parking lot in the heart of downtown La Crosse, but the property is giving the county a rare opportunity. With its prime location, the county is looking to turn Lot C into a multifunctional space.
Lot C is located right across from the county court house. Over the past several months, a committee has come up with some great ideas to maximize the value of Lot C. One downtown business owner said he can't wait to see what the developers come up with.
Wettstein's has been on 3rd Street since 1963. If you look outside its windows now you will see a parking lot, but it hasn't always been this way.
“When we moved here it was city hall and then after that Montgomery Wards moved in and after Montgomery Wards left, it became the parking lot that it is today,” said Dan Wettstein, the owner of Wettstein’s in La Crosse.
Now that parking lot, known as Lot C, is getting a lot of attention as the county hopes to redevelop the site.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, this is a gateway coming into the city of La Crosse,” said Wettstein.
"Right now we have a void, we've got this surface parking lot, with zero tax base, that is cutting off the city and county and western campuses from the rest of downtown,” said Brian Fukuda, a community development specialist for the county of La Crosse.
After countless hours and meetings, the Lot C Advisory Committee is finally ready to talk design.
The county has more than two acres to work with; some say it should be office and retail space, while others say there is a need for more housing.
"Ideally what I would like to see there is something that would be a destination, that would bring people into downtown La Crosse,” said Wettstein.
Whatever does become of Lot C, developers want to make sure it fits in with the rest of downtown.
"Certainly not wanting to compete with some of the vacant space we have, vacant store fronts and any vacant office space we may have, but more compliment that space with a mix of uses that's going to ultimately provide a better economic environment in our downtown area,” said Fukuda.
It's now up to the developers to envision what Lot C could be in the future. As for Wettstein, he said he wouldn't mind seeing something *other* than a parking lot when he goes to work.
"It's a piece of land that is valuable, that needs to be developed,” said Wettstein.
County officials are hoping to begin interviewing interested developers in the beginning of May. Then they will narrow it down to three developers who will be asked to turn in a detailed proposal for the site by mid-June.
Once a proposal is approved, the county board will be able to move forward with a potential buyer in July and a final sale in the fall. Click here for more on Lot C.