La Crosse Tribune building being sold, businessman to redevelop site

La Crosse Tribune building being sold

LA CROSSE, Wis. WKBT)  It has been rumored for several months that the La Crosse Tribune Building in downtown was being sold. But now News 8 has confirmed who the new owner will be.

Cliff LeCleir, who owns several businesses in the area, plans to buy the property.

The La Crosse Tribune is a large, two-story building in the heart of La Crosse on Third Street. The local newspaper has been in its current location since 1973 and is owned by Lee Enterprises.

In August, the Tribune stopped printing its papers in La Crosse and started printing instead out of Madison. That change at the paper seemed to get the ball rolling for the change in property ownership.

I have that vacant land presently behind the Tribune, so about three years ago, I started talking to the people at the Tribune about the possibility of buying their property, but they were still printing there. When they quit printing here a few months ago, we reopened our discussions, and I ended up having an offer that was accepted, and we are closing Dec. 30, said LeCleir, in an interview with News 8.

LeCleir didn’t want to say just how much he’ll pay for the property, other than to say it’s fair market value. According to county land data, the property is assessed at $2,059,700.

He said that property makes a lot of sense for him to buy. LeCleir already owns The Hampton Inn and Suites on Second and La Crosse streets, as well as the adjacent empty lot.

Now he’ll also own the Tribune property, which essentially means he’ll control two city blocks. LeCleir says that timing and location are very important to this development.

It’s pretty interesting, isn’t it, that downtown a number of years ago was dead and the malls were flourishing.  And now it’s the opposite. And so we have two blocks of crucial property where the three entrances to La Crosse converge right where the Hampton Inn is. And so it’s primary property. We’re going to be doing a feasibility (study) as to what would be the best thing and what is needed in downtown,” LeCleir said.

LeCleir said he has been working closely with city officials to see what kind of development should happen on the site. He will not build anything on the lot until he has tenants confirmed for a building.

The publisher of the Tribune told News 8 “no comment.”

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