Great River Landing project moves forward with $15.3 million price tag

Onalaska city officials will break project down into three phases

The Great River Landing project in Onalaska is moving forward, but it has a hefty price tag.

Onalaska’s Waterfront Committee hosted an intensive three-day design event back in September. At the end of the event, the city chose a final design which now has a price tag of more than $15 million.

Because it is an expensive project, city officials are looking to proceed in phases.     

Owner of River Trail Cycles Emily Vance just hit her business’ one-year mark in Onalaska.

“There are great resources such as the Great River Bike Trail directly across the street from us, so that’s been working tremendously,” said Vance.

With a new project underway in Onalaska, Vance said her location is about to get a whole lot better.

“I think by developing this waterfront further, it’s just going to expand horizons for so many more people doing so many more activities,” said Vance.

The Great River Landing project comes with an estimated price tag of $15.3 million but to limit the cost upfront, city officials have a plan.

“There are components of the project that can be broken down into smaller pieces,” said Brea Grace, land use and development director for Onalaska.

The redevelopment will happen in three main phases, moving from the main land out to the Black River.

Phase 1: Plaza, trailhead and market on Highway 35 and Main Street.

Phase 2: Main Street Bridge over railroad tracks.

Phase 3: Boardwalks through marsh and to spillway.

“We’ll do it in segments and achieving funding in that manner will be easier,” said Grace.

To help with the cost, the city will be looking into its capital improvement budget, grants and private donations.

“It’s much too early to talk about what the impact may be on the taxpayer,” said Grace.

Phase 1 is estimated to cost between $1 million and $2.5 million but Vance said it’s a good place to begin.

“Starting with an area that is going to be more visible from the highway I think will really spark some interest as to ‘What’s going on down there?’ and having people very curious to check it out,” said Vance.

On Nov. 11, the conceptual design for phase one will head to the Common Council for review and approval. If it gets approved, the design will then head back the designers to create a 30 percent mock-up of phase one.

If everything goes as planned, phase one of the Great River Landing Project could start to take shape in spring of 2016.

City officials said they are not sure how long the three phases will take to complete.

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