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City to buy loan company building near festgrounds

Brad Williams



The city of La Crosse will take a chance on an old office building for future development.

The city council has voted 8-5 to buy a former loan company office near the southside festgrounds, possibly to demolish it and a billboard on its roof. The price: $600,000.

Last week, council members were told they had to make a quick decision because other prospective buyers were looking at the building.

City planner Jason Gilman, however, said reports of the building being listed online by realtors were not true.

Council members, who opposed the purchase, said the city plans to spend a lot of money on property that doesn’t have a proposed use yet.

One opponent, Jessica Olson, said the property next to GECU Credit Union is very hard to access.

However, council member Philip Ostrem said the city needs to take chances on some properties because someone else might buy the building and take it off the market for 20 years.

City attorney Stephen Matty cautioned council members that the company which owns the billboard could sue to keep the sign where it is.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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