City to hire consultants to draw up north side corridor master plan

City targeting Rose Street from interstate to downtown for revitalization

The Rose Street corridor welcomes thousands of drivers to La Crosse a day, and city planners want to make sure it’s a warm welcome.

“It’s really our welcome mat to the rest of the world,” said Jason Gilman, director of planning and development in La Crosse. He estimates the road carries about 30,000 cars a day. “People from the airport come in this way, people from the interstate come in this way. And how is it performing in terms of selling La Crosse as a great place to live, work, play, invest, all of that?”

The city of La Crosse intends to hire consultants to come up with a master plan to revitalize the corridor, targeting a two and a half mile stretch of Highway 53 from the interstate at Exit 3 to downtown La Crosse.

“We’ve got probably the largest commercial and residential untapped resource within the city for redevelopment and progress,” North La Crosse Business Association President Nick Roush said. “So, we’re trying to figure out, what do we need to put together for plans, from a city and community perspective, to make the highest and best use of all the things in this corridor?”

The master plan comes with a price tag of $200,000 and addresses a variety of issues like redevelopment, traffic efficiency and environmental concerns like floodplains in a large portion of the city.

“If you look at 2 1/2 miles times maybe a two-block area on both sidewalks, you’re talking about 600 acres of development. So it’s a huge economic piece to the city,” Gilman said.

Roush said having the plan will be a boost for business and the city in general.

“The better job we can do with being stewards of what happens with development in our city, it creates more and more opportunity for growth, business, residents, all of the above,” he said.

Gilman agreed the plan will bring economic growth to the area and rejuvenate one of the main gateways to the city.

“Areas that are perhaps under-performing or vacant, we’re going to look at how those all fit and what kind of strategies we can implement to make sure that area really becomes something special,” Gilman said. “Because that experience you have driving from the interstate driving downtown, we want people to have a really good experience.”

Gilman said official planning with the consultants will likely begin in July and take eight to nine months. Implementation of the plan will begin shortly after that.

The city is using federal funds for the master plan and will look at a variety of ways to fund implementation of the plan in the future.