Announcement of a buyer for the old Kmart property expected in coming weeks

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Plans for the former Kmart property in La Crosse may soon be announced. It's been a little more than a year since Kmart closed and city planning officials still don't know who will be purchasing the site. 

However, officials said there are several interested buyers, including the city of La Crosse. 

"That was a neighborhood resource," Andrea Schnick, economic and development planner for the city of La Crosse. "That's the neighborhood I grew up in so I went to Kmart a lot as a kid. Seeing that close down was personally disappointing." 

Schnick said those answers are on the horizon. 

"There's a lot of developer interest locally and statewide," Schnick said. 

City officials said they would like the site to have a mix of residential and commercial development. 

The idea is to have "some additional residential fading into the neighborhoods right there," Schnick said. "There are some really great amenities with the grocery store, a high school; we would like to make it a more walkable area with more landscaping." 

She said the yearlong delay on the site has to do with the current owner of the $4.4 million location. 

"It's owned by a private developer who doesn't really understand the importance of this site to the city and so those negotiations have been happening without the city," Schnick said. 

City officials said they are hopeful something will happen in the next couple of weeks. 

"Having that empty site, of course, we are losing taxes. We are losing economy," said Phillip Ostrem, from the La Crosse City Council. 

They said the sites popular location presents a lot of potential for the community. 

"There's a blank canvass there right now for us and we really hope to see something exciting happening there," Schnick said. 

Officials said they are confident development will begin soon after a buyer is announced. 

They said the current building on the property will likely be demolished to make room for new construction. 

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