New TIF district would bring city millions, redevelop northside

La Crosse is planning another big revitalization project.

The city is going to put $1.1 million into a TIF district at the former Trane site on La Crosse’s northside.

After the site is developed, the taxes generated from the businesses and residents in that TIF district will reimburse the city for the money it provided to get the project started.

City officials said taxpayers in the area won’t see much of a difference in their taxes even after the site is developed. The proposal is still working its way through city government.

The 12-acre plot of land has been vacant for nearly 20 years and city officials are excited to get the ball rolling with this project, but there are a few things standing in the way of putting a shovel in the ground.

That plot of land has housed a number of different businesses dating all the back to the 1940’s. Through that time, the soil became contaminated and some areas of the site actually sit 6 feet or more below the flood plain. Before anything can be built, the city will need to sink some money into getting those issues fixed.

These 12 acres may not look like much, but city council member Ryan Cornett says, “There is a lot of potential on this property.”

City officials estimate it will cost about $1.1 million to clean up the site and have it ready to be developed.

“Some environmental remediation, we have to bring in clean fill to bring the site out of the flood plain and we have to move a sewer pipe. That’s the first three big projects we’re trying to do,” City of La Crosse Planning Director Larry Kirch said.

They believe the development of this property will benefit the city and La Crosse’s northside.

“Bring a major tax base to the property that as you can see has not had much of a tax base in many years, and also the community wants this,” Cornett said.

“It also will hopefully then create interest and create development in the larger neighborhood over time,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

The land could house many different things.

“We have the chance for a grocery store,” Cornett said.

“Possibly a pharmacy,” Kabat said.

“We’ve tried to get some mixed housing development,” Kirch said.

“A shopping mall area,” Cornett said.

“Medical offices,” Kabat said.

“Could be a small professionals office,” Kirch said.

“The VA is another possibility,” Cornett said.

“And then the developer has a concept for a business park to help existing business that are looking to grow to stay in the city,” Kabat said.

With all the possibilities, the developed property is expected to bring the city quite a bit of money.

“We’re showing about $10 or $11 million worth of tax base. That’s what we know. If that develops that will certainly be enough to pay back what we’re talking about in terms of (upfront) costs, but yes potentially it could be $18 to $20 million in tax base, but what we think is a real number for now is $10 or $11 million,” Kirch said.

City officials hope to begin the environmental remediation later this summer or in the fall. That way the site would be ready to be developed as soon as next spring.

The city is currently applying for a few grants that would reduce that $1.1 million it expects to pay. Funding for this project will most likely come from the city’s reserve funds.