Last week the City of La Crosse agreed to sell the building at 800 Rose Street for just 10 dollars, but with the stipulation that the new owner would keep the historic integrity of the building in tact. The former Magill Brothers Bank building and Masonic Temple most recently housed Buzz's Bike shop and currently sits vacant.
The building dates back to 1887 and is 130 years old in 2017. Now its future role will be high end apartments and commercial space.
The top floors are planned to have 1200 square foot 2 bedroom apartments with 12 foot high ceilings. On the bottom floor, space for a maximum of two commercial tenants, though the option is open for one to take both spaces.
Unfortunately, the building needs quite a bit of work. On their first entry, partners with RMD Development said they saw 40-50 pigeons living inside near the top floor. Much of the ceilings, walls and floors have major damage that needs to be repaired, all while preserving the historic nature of the building.
"It's not a bull in the china shop approach, you have to be really delicate with what you're doing," said Marcus Zettler.
Zettler is a preservation architect for HSR Associates working with the developers. He says much of the first phase of the project will focus on the exterior.
"We'll be restoring windows, we'll be adding storm and screen windows to increase energy efficiency in the building and then we've got a whole lot of masonry work," said Zettler. "If you look at the outside of the building, the turret - one of the signature pieces of the building - has quite a bit of rot and deterioration. That's going to be one of the first things that we tackle."
Once that's finished, the work on the interior can begin. All of the work is projected to take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, but to the developers it's worth it.
"As we work on this project, as we get this building revitalized, we really think it's going to be one of those key gems to the north side that people are going to be able to hang their hat on and be very proud of," said RMD partner Ryan Johnson.