La Crosse recognized for downtown revitalization efforts at state awards ceremony

Wisconsin Main Street Awards showcase best 2015 downtown revitalization projects

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation recognized communities revitalizing their historic downtowns Friday at the 25th annual Wisconsin Main Street Awards, and the city of La Crosse had four award winners.

For 2015, the Charmont Hotel was selected as Best Adaptive Reuse project, The Court Above Main won Best Upper Floor Development, CouleeCo. STARTERS walked away with Best Public-Private Partnership project, and Andrew Londre was recognized for accomplishments with La Crosse SOUP.

“There were two communities that had three or more awards, and we were one of those communities,” said Robin Moses, director of Downtown Mainstreet La Crosse. “It really is a testament to the revitalization and the transformation and renaissance that downtown La Crosse is experiencing right now.”

“We all feel the energy in downtown La Crosse and the motivation, and it’s like we’re on fire and things keep exploding and happening for the positive,” said Debra Lash, owner of The Court Above Main.

Lash renovated an almost century-long vacant gym on the third floor above her bridal shop, The Wedding Tree, to a reception hall.

“In 1998 we moved to this location, and when I walked upstairs and realized the third floor was empty, the gym floor that had been vacant for decades, I envisioned immediately a reception hall,” she said. “As the business grew and downtown became more successful and over the years other venues closed and no more reopened, we decided to do the remodel and change it into a ballroom in 2014 and we completed construction in 2015.”

In addition to the awards, Will Kratt, of the architecture, engineering, environmental and planning firm ISG Group, was recognized as La Crosse’s Volunteer of the Year.

“It’s awesome that La Crosse is doing so great and everybody’s (asking), ‘What’s your secret? Why do you have so much success?’,” said Lash. “It’s everybody working together for the greater good.”