Plans to renovate Roosevelt Elementary School delayed due to financial reasons

Developers are planning to turn old school into about 30 departments

After a year-and-a-half, the old Roosevelt Elementary School in La Crosse is still vacant, but plans are in place to get it on the tax roll. However, finances are proving more difficult than expected.

The old school building is right in the middle of the North Side Neighborhood so when deciding what to do with the building, the residents were invited to give their opinion.

The plan to make it into about 30 apartments hasn’t changed, but it may be a little delayed because of financial reasons.

“We are in a waiting period,” said Caroline Neilsen, community development administrator for La Crosse.

Time is ticking on plans to renovate the old Roosevelt Elementary School.

“What’s being planned is 28 to 30 apartments,” said Randy Nelson, the superintendent for the La Crosse School District.

“We know we need more affordable housing that is decent and safe and so some are going to be income restricted and it is targeting more of a workforce housing,” said Neilsen.

But plans are at a standstill as the developer, Gorman and Company, figures out its financial situation.

“Round one occurred last spring and at that time they were looking for Wisconsin State Tax credits. They did not come through so now they are looking at another option,” said Nelson.

“They are pursuing a different set of funding, but it requires a little more work,” said Neilsen.

The La Crosse School District and the developers have agreed on a purchase price of $300,000, but the entire project is in the millions.

“What they are trying to get accomplished requires other support outside of the school district,” said Nelson.

“The city stepped forward last month. So we loaned them an additional $250,000 in community block grant funding,” said Neilsen.

Although the waiting game continues, all those involved are hopeful because it allows them to give back to a well-deserving community.

“We have seen relatively few if any projects that have happened there, so I think this is exciting for the Northside,” said Neilsen.

“We’ve said so many times that neighborhood has supported our schools for a long time and we want to make sure we support them and provide something that is helpful to the neighborhood,” said Nelson.

Because Gorman and Company is still working on the financial side of the agreement, the La Crosse School District can back out on the deal at any time. Both sides have until Sept. 30 to decide if they want to move forward with the plans or start looking for a plan B.

If the plans move forward, the La Crosse School District, and Gorman and Company have until the end of the year to close on the property.