New La Crosse city committee will help create updated vision for downtown

What will downtown La Crosse look like 20 years from now?  That question will be at the center of plans for a new city committee.

Those involved with the City Vision 2040 Steering Committee will help put together a new city vision plan since the last one was updated in 2004. This plan will encompass many projects and a new way to bring business, housing and more to the downtown area.

The City Vision 2020 plan reimagined the downtown.

“Downtown was really in decline from urban renewal when everything moved out to the mall,” said Timothy Acklin, senior planner for La Crosse’s Planning and Development Department.

It reenergized the area by creating ways to showcase the Mississippi River, improve parking and highlight its rich history.

“We want to make sure that the historic character of our community is maintained. It’s really important therefore to stick with the plan,” said Robin Moses, executive director for Downtown Mainstreet Inc.

It included goals like more higher-end housing, additional commercial and office space and fixing up existing developments.

“So many of the things that were planned for were accomplished,” Moses said.

It centered around mostly redevelopment.

“But how can we make sure we have events and activities, wayfinding, things of that nature to keep people living downtown and keep coming downtown,” Acklin said.

Not only will this new plan focus more on marketing but it will also look at a bigger area– all the way to West Ave. and south of Cass St.

“There’s a lot of businesses that are considered downtown that we’re really included in the previous plan. so we’re focusing on what we can do down that way as well,” Acklin said.

The City Vision 2040 Steering Committee will help by selecting a design firm, holding focus groups and gathering public input to get a wide perspective on what should be included.

“We want to make sure our plan is very inclusive of everyone on the community and that it is focused on what is best for downtown growth and the growth of the city and the region,” Moses said.

First, the committee will gather proposals from firms before eventually selecting one sometime in the spring. From there, they’ll hold public meetings for a few months over the summer.

The committee hopes to have a plan drafted by this fall.  But it would have to get city council approval.