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Building facade compromise with city hall may point the way forward for downtown La Crosse



A compromise on the look of a downtown La Crosse building may show the way forward for property owners in the future.

Last week, La Crosse’s city council granted Grounded Specialty Coffee owner Maria Norberg an exception from historical restrictions on what she could do with the front of her building on Main Street.

That decision reached after mediated talks with city staff on potential changes leading to the compromise.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome in this circumstance,” city council member Jessica Olson said.

The city originally denied Norberg’s request to get rid of her front entrance because of the historical nature Grounded’s building.

“What I’m trying to do is a small adjustment by adding a piece of glass over the front of the building,” Norberg told WIZM back in February. “It’s certainly nothing demo and, if a front door needed to be added, you could easily add it again.”

Norberg made her store handicapped accessible by adding a ramp to the side of the building. She said having to maintain both entrances significantly decreases the usable space in her store.

A compromise design will still make it look like the door is there and could be changed back in the future.

Olson is looking for changes in city rules that will assure a similar process in the future for property owners looking to make changes in the city’s historical districts. A process that would lead to one that seeks compromise before simply denying requests.

“We hopefully will have some legislation coming forward that in the future applicants will be treated in the same way as Ms. Norberg was,” Olson said. “The process will go through a referral and a mediation procedure in the future for our natural historic districts.”

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