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City looks for community input to redevelop Riverside North

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - After years of debate and overcoming obstacles, a prime piece of La Crosse real estate is now on the path toward realizing it's potential.

The City of La Crosse is seeking community input about redeveloping the Riverside North Property.

It's 65 acres of land, most commonly known as the Exxon Mobil site, just north of downtown La Crosse. And in the next few months, the city will host a series of meetings seeking community input.

"It's one of those legacy type projects. Once in a lifetime," said Mayor Tim Kabat.

It's taken almost 40 years for the city to accumulate the land. Development is not the easiest feat in La Crosse since it's surrounded by water and bluffs, according to Kabat.

"I think that's the type of plan we're trying to create here is something that's feasible in the marketplace but responds to a demand also. And produce tax base," said Larry Kirch, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority.

That's why the city is seeking community input, he added.

"Cities like La Crosse really have to grow up instead of out. It is always more difficult to do redevelopment," Kirch said.

"As the city gets older, buildings, land, property, all of those things, the use of it starts to lose whatever it came for. Times change," said former Mayor Pat Zielke, who served La Crosse from 1975 to 1997.

Zielke helped build up the city, adding the now U.S. Bank building and the La Crosse Center.

Now Mayor Kabat is hoping to make a new legacy, and add to the city's tax roll.

"It can transform the community, I really think so," Kabat said. "Especially with it's location next to the river and close to downtown."

The series of community meetings will lead up to a charrette, an intense period of planning and development, in May.

The next redevelopment meeting is Thursday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in the Kumm Center on the Western Technical College Campus.
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