La Crosse helps developer revitalize historic landmark; but with no undesirable tenants

Real estate developer RMD Development LLC, has reached a deal with the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin to revitalize a local landmark within three years, with work to begin by October 1, 2017.

The deal includes a $200,000 city loan, and that comes with a ban on certain kinds of undesirable commercial tenants for a period of 20 years. No adult entertainment, pawnshops, mini-warehouses, car title loan businesses, payday lenders, tattoo parlors and/or off-premise signs will be allowed.

The La Crosse Common Council unanimously approved the development agreement on July 13, 2017 with RMD Development LLC.

The city-designated historic landmark is the 130-year-old former Magill Brothers Bank and Masonic Temple site, which the city has been attempting to sell for some time now.

It was only a few years ago that the city was seriously considering demolishing the historic building. it looked squalid, inside and out. The building’s history included several structural collapses, animal infestations, a leaking roof, and condemnation.

The city has been in a race to stop the building from caving in on itself, and has been vacillating between reviving or razing the derelict, foul old structure.

The building had been owned by a private individual with no respect for the city’s heritage or to the wellbeing of the neighborhood. It has long been “a public nuisance that the city is trying to remedy,” said Doug Kearns, a city engineer. “It’s such a shame. The guy just let it run down to nothing.

Now, with this new public-private partnership, this grand old structure is on the verge of new life, which will hopefully spread throughout the neighborhood, which will no longer have to gaze this monument to irresponsible real estate ownership. And the restrictions on tenant quality will help ensure that this rebirth benefits the community as much as possible.

Feature image courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

See La Crosse Tribune article by Christopher Baldus.

See 2010 La Crosse Tribune article on the fate of the deteriorating Masonic Temple.

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