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La Crosse Co. on tight deadline to move Admin Center

Developers believe the project can be finished in three and a half years

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The La Crosse County Board is moving forward with plans to move the entire administrative center into a new building.

On Thursday, the board accepted the offer to sell the current administrative building to Borton Construction and 360 Real Estate.  The companies will get rid of all of the asbestos and turn the building into private student housing for Western Technical College.

The administrative center will move into the Associated Bank building on the corner of 7th and State Streets.  It will cost about $19.4 million from start to finish.  However, there are a lot of things that still need to line up before any moving can occur.

If everything goes as planned, the entire operation will take a little over three and a half years.  Officials admit it's a tight deadline, but they said it is achievable.

"This is very aggressive, but this is absolutely achievable.  It is absolutely a doable work plan," said Tara Johnson, the chair of the La Crosse County Board.

VIDEO: 50388 (brittany admin building)

Johnson said it all starts with a strict timeline.  The developers want to transform the current administration building into student housing by fall of 2017.  However, county workers need a new home first.

"We have to have a place to go so that the building can be abated of asbestos and remodeled.  We need a place to move into," said Johnson.

They've decided to move into the Associated Bank building, but that won't happen until the bank has a new place to go.

"They want to be on Lot C so we have to make sure we have some indication of what Lot C is going to look like so that they can get out of their building," said Johnson.

So the whole new development is contingent on a future for parking Lot C, which is across from the county courthouse.

"What that visioning process will do is kind of give a flavor for the development," said Brian Fukuda, a community development specialist for La Crosse County.  "We want to do that visioning to figure out what that lot could really become."

Fukuda said the vision of Lot C is important because it ultimately decides what happens next.

"All of that work needs to happen simultaneously in order to stay on this timeline," said Fukuda.  "It's difficult to try to see how all of this can come together with such a tight time frame."

However, Fukuda said it is doable.

"We have been able to put together a timeline that is achievable," said Fukuda.

Johnson is rounding up people to be part of a visionary committee that will determine how parking Lot C should be developed.  Once they have an idea, it will be revealed to the public and they will have a chance to give their input.  If everything goes as planned, construction on all three projects could start in spring of next year.

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