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La Crosse partners with seventh-grade class to envision future of Valley View Mall

Drew Kelly

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What does the future of the Valley View Mall look like?

As part of a yearly program, the City of La Crosse’s planning department teamed up with a class of seventh graders at Lincoln Middle School to have them plan out what possibilities exist.

Lewis Kuhlman, Environmental Planner with the city, said it’s valuable to get different perspectives.

“We don’t hear from 13 year olds often for what they want and what they’re interested in,” Kuhlman said. “When we look at planning for projects, we’re thinking 20 years down the road. These kids will be in their 30s at that point.”

Several big box stores at the mall have closed in recent years, and shopping at the brick-and-mortar stores doesn’t have the same appeal anymore.

“Our planning department and economic development director have a great relationship with the mall,” Kuhlman said. “There are a lot of vacancies right now, but that just brings forward a lot of potential.”

Teacher Scott Bagniefski said it was a real-life project, and he saw progress between the groups as the month went along.

The groups also took a tour to see the mall, so they could see how their plans would look in real life.

Ideas included lots of green space with a dog park, some sporting facilities, childcare, as well as low-income housing.