What new affordable housing at Rivoli Theatre means for downtown La Crosse

The owners of the nearly 100-year-old historic Rivoli Theatreare using a $300,000 grant from the city of La Crosse to convert the upper floors to affordable apartments.

Roers Companies, a Minneapolis-based developer, is building 33 income-based affordable housing units in the Rivoli building.

Downtown Mainstreet officials say when more people move downtown, businesses prosper and the entire community benefits.

Robin Moses the Executive Director of Downtown Mainstreet La Crosse said, “It’s been amazing the transformations that are happening in downtown La Crosse.”

Robin Moses, the executive director of Downtown Mainstreet La Crosse is excited for the upper floors of the Rivoli to be converted to affordable housing.

“Especially in a downtown district, we have a lot of people who work downtown, and those residents can’t always reach those higher levels of market-rate housing,” Moses said.

Over the past five years, Moses says more people have been wanting to live downtown.

“These projects that are bringing in new housing are just showing that more and more people in our community are discovering the benefits of living more in an urban core,” Moses said.

Paul Keenan, the vice president of development at Roers Companies, said that’s exactly why they wanted buy the Rivoli Theatre building.

“It’s just a great location, kind of in the heart of downtown La Crosse, and so we are looking for projects that are in cities, more urban projects right now,” Keenan said.

Even though they’re changing the upper floors, they’re going to keep the theater on the first floor.

“We see it as a community asset, so we wanted to do everything we could to kind of keep the theater in place, and we’re happy that the current owner was willing to stay on and manage it because we are not in the theater business,” Keenan said.

For local shops and restaurants, more people means more business.

“When people live downtown, they shop downtown, they eat downtown, they get their services downtown,” Moses said.

As a result, Downtown Mainstreet officials hope new businesses will pop up and the entire region will get to benefit.

“You’re going to see more convenience-type stores that are serving basic needs for residents. We’re going to see hopefully a larger pharmacy, more personal service,” Moses said.

Roers Companies said it will cost around $7 million to build those apartments at the Rivoli.
In the best-case scenario, they said they will begin construction late next fall.

The developer said you will notice some improvements to the Rivoli’s facade, but they do not have a plan to change the inside of the theater itself.
That same developer is also building a new senior housing project in Onalaska called Havenwood, and they plan to develop more housing in La Crosse in the future.

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