City seeks public input on pocket neighborhood - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

City seeks public input on pocket neighborhood

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW)--The City of La Crosse is planning to transform a small section the city's southside, at the former Naval Reserve Center site, located on Green Bay Street, just off Losey Boulevard.

A few years ago, the city tried to sell the land as eight single family lots but there wasn't much interest. So the latest idea is to build what's called a pocket neighborhood. The concept was created by architect Ross Chapin. He designs them for areas across the country and is in the process of creating a plan for one in La Crosse.

"In a pocket neighborhood, it's organized around nearby neighbors," Chapin said. "And these few neighbors, there my be half a dozen, up to a dozen, come together around a shared commons, a shared garden."

Chapin says this creates a greater sense of community and fits changing demographics which show the average family size is shrinking. He also says what's unique about the proposed pocket neighborhood in La Crosse, is that the idea was imitated by the city.

"You've got a progressive, innovative city and they want to see something that would provide more options for people in terms of housing type, in terms of affordability, in terms of fitting in with the surrounding neighborhood," Chapin said.

In fact the homes planned for the lot would be on par with the size and price of others in that area.

"They would be at 1000 square feet," said La Crosse City Planner Larry Kirch. "They still might cost from $100,000 to $120,000 but they're in the same price range as the surrounding homes."

Kirch says he thinks there would be interest in the homes because in the last five years, more than 100 homes sold within a quarter mile of the site.

"Really it's about trying to find a developer that might do this and as I've said, we're, the city is prepared to be the developer," Kirch said."We can't let that land sit idle forever."

However, Kirch says the city would be a developer of last resort and ideally an outside entity would take on the project.

The city is asking for public feedback at a meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Central High School. The city will present a final plan at the end of March.

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