County building could be sold, become Western Tech. College dorm - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

County building could be sold, become Western Tech. College dormitory


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- The county's administrative center and downtown campus study committee will meet Thursday to discuss the possible sale of the La Crosse county administrative center.

Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions has offered the county $250-thousand for the building. 
The real estate company said it will not comment on the proposal until after this week's meeting. 

But Joe Veenstra, chair for the ACDCS committee, said the developer would transform the building, built in the 1960's, to a college dormitory. 

Veenstra estimated the value upon the completion of the remodeling would be roughly $6.8 million dollars. 

If the committee recommends the sale, the proposal would then need to clear the county board to be approved. 

"What we're looking at is the whole package," said county board chair Tara Johnson. "What they're offering for the building, what they plan to do with it and right now it's not on the tax rolls."

"If (Three Sixty) purchases the building, they're looking at $6.8 million in improvements," Johnson said, "and it goes back onto the tax roles at that value." 

The dormitory would house students attending classes across the street at Western Technical College. 

Mike Pieper, Western's vice president of finance and operations, said the school currently has the capacity to house 200 students. 

But Pieper added there are another 400 students signed up on a waiting list hoping that additional space becomes available. 

"Sometimes students drop out of the list because it's so long," he said. 

Johnson said the administrative center's heating and cooling systems, as well as electrical and plumbing systems are all out of date. 

But she said attempting to remodel the building while keeping county employee's working inside might not be a good option due to asbestos contained within the walls. 

"If we were going to renovate the building for our purposes we would want to do it floor by floor," Johnson said. "So we could move people to one floor, do the asbestos removal and improvements on the vacant floor, one floor at a time." 

"You have to cordon off the sections where you're doing the asbestos abatements," she added. "It becomes a very cost inefficient way to do things." 

"Us leaving the building, and having someone else do the asbestos abatement and all the work that needs to be done on the building at one time is much more efficient," Johnson said. 

Pieper said Three Sixty would always have the option of turning the building into a standard, private apartment complex. 

But if it chooses to work with Western, the building would be a privately run dormitory. 
If it complies with the necessary fire and security standards, Western would then provide a resident hall director, floor monitors and programs like "pizza parties and field trips," Pieper said. 

Under the proposal up for review Thursday, the building would have to be vacated by the fall of 2015 so renovations can begin. 

Veenstra said he's not sure if the committee will recommend the sale. The ACDCS committee will meet again the first week of July. 

If the sale is approved by the committee and county board, the city would also have to re-zone the building for its new purpose. 


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