Historic building project complete; now includes affordable housing

Building dates back to 1903

A renovation project on a historic building on La Crosse’s south side is now complete, and the end result is more affordable housing for families in the area.

Many in the area know it as the former Bakalars Sausage Company Factory building, near Gundersen Health System.

It’s a complex that has stood since 1903, and survived structural damage from the tornado that hit La Crosse back in 2011.

But today, the 2219 Lofts building houses 25 affordable one, two and three bedroom apartments for families.

Community leaders said the project has turned what was once an outdated and damaged property, into a cornerstone for the community.

For La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, the building has truly stood the test of time.

“At any point in that time, it could have been very easy either neglect or demolish that building,” Kabat said.

Down to the little details, Kabat said what now stands as an apartment complex truly respects La Crosse’s history.

“The fact that its being transformed into 25 housing units is really a great day for La Crosse,” Kabat said.

But more importantly, those units are for affordable housing, with prices ranging from around $300-$850 per month.

Six units are reserved for formerly homeless families that need extra help staying on their feet.

“What you end up with is people living in a nice, beautiful new building that are working in the community,” Rod McCready, co-president of MetroPlains LLC, the developer behind the building. “They might be a family or an individual and these rents are affordable for them.”

“We’re beyond just the talking stage of homelessness,” Kabat said. “We’re into the actions in providing housing units to help people get out of the homeless situation.”

To help fund the project, the city of La Crosse offered up $500,000 in a community block grant and HOME investment partnership.

In turn, that grant helped attract $5 million in state and federal tax credits.

“If we did not have the financial commitment from the city, we would have not risen to the top of the projects that get funded throughout the state,” McCready said.

“It’s really important, I think, primarily at the federal government and the state government, to recognize, to acknowledge that these tax credits are really critical for how these projects get redeveloped,” Kabat said.

It’s a day that not only saves an historic building, but keeps families in homes rather than on the street.

“We’re not only talking the talk, we’re walking the walk,” Kabat said.

According to the building manager, roughly 50 percent of the building is leased, which they said is faster than they anticipated.

They hope to fill the building completely in about three months.

If you are interested in some of the properties available for rent, call 608-791-1117 for more information.