Neighborhood project moves forward on La Crosse’s south side

Nonprofit purchases building on Jackson Street

A neighborhood-revitalization project is moving forward on La Crosse’s south side.

About two weeks ago, Shelter Development of La Crosse, an organization that provides real estate for community projects such as the warming shelter, bought the vacant building on Jackson Street that is known to many as the Plaid Pantry site.

The hope now is to turn the building into a neighborhood resource center, in an effort to bring the community closer together.

It’s a building that has a lot of history in La Crosse.

“At one point this was a place, kind of like a convenience store for the neighborhood,” group member Tom Thibodeau said.

But for more than 15 years, the building has been vacant.

“People would drive by it and see tarps in the window,” Thibodeau said.

About two weeks ago, Shelter Development of La Crosse, led by Rick Staff and Thibodeau, closed on the purchase of the building.

“The very least we have accomplished is that we have eliminated the blight, but we do have goals of establishing a resource in the community,” Staff said.

The nonprofit group is now looking to the neighborhood for help on what exactly the building should become.

“Couple ideas we’d like to see is the opportunity of providing fresh produce for people in the neighborhood. The possibility of a clothes closet for children, maybe a free coffee house,” Thibodeau said.

“By bringing the resources into the community, we’re going to empower those people to become neighbors, and be comfortable where they live,” Staff said.

While the property needs some work, they hope that in time it will become a staple of the community.

“It’s an important cog in the system where people know they can go and get help,” Staff said.

“The community has seen a tremendous level of revitalization downtown. To continue that community growth, revitalization has to move out into the neighborhoods, the lifeblood of the city,” Thibodeau said.

Staff and Thibodeau hope to have the building up in running sometime in the next year.

As with any project of this size, the group is hoping to lean on the community to help complete this project.

If someone is interested in how they can get involved, they can contact either Gerrard-Hoeschler or Shelter Development of La Crosse.