Leaders hope new Holmen community space will support all residents

Nearly two years since the Festival Foods in Holmen closed, new doors are opening for the space. When the new Festival Foods location opened down the road, the North Holmen Drive site cleared out.

“Holmen is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state of Wisconsin. This store just outgrew its service,” said Barbara Skogen, one of the site’s co-owners.

There have been talks about potential offers, but they always fell through for one reason or another. When the last deal didn’t work out, co-owner Dave Skogen called his wife with the news.

“Why don’t we just give it away?” he said to her, recalling the conversation during an announcement ceremony Wednesday.

It wasn’t until recently they felt something bigger was telling them there were other plans for the site.

“This is not to be a location for another retail space. There is a better use for this building,” Barbara Skogen said.

The vacant property will soon become a community center with a Boys and Girls Club location.
The husband and wife decided to donate and renovate the property, a cost upwards of $4.5 million, for the project.

“We’re across the street from the middle school, down the road from the high school and elementary schools are close by,” said Jake Erickson, executive director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.

Not only will it have a perfect location, but it will also be one of the first Boys and Girls Clubs with multi-generational programming.

“There’s a need for kids to be active, to be connected with adult role models,” Erickson said.

Site plans include two gyms, a playground, space for the Holmen School District and the long-awaited community center. Leaders said they had looked at the Festival Foods location when it closed, but couldn’t afford the cost at the time.

“Persistence and belief in accomplishing something that you see as a need can happen if you stay the course,” said Mary Lin Wershofen, board president for the Holmen Area Community Center organization.

Those involved with the planning of the community center are excited to have a safe space for youth. According to the non-profit’s website, a former part-time youth center was forced to close in 2011 because limited space raised safety concerns.

But now, those involved with the project hope it will provide for the needs of many.

“Our people have a safe and welcoming place to go, and we will become a strong community because we will be together,” Wershofen said.

Much of the money needed for the project has either been pledged by the Skogen family and the Holmen Area Community Center organization. Details of an agreement with the Boys and Girls Club have not yet been announced.

Leaders say they will need about 1.5 million from the community by the end of the year for the project.

Groundbreaking on the site is expected for some time this fall. The goal is to open the facility in the fall of 2020.

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