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Former city planner wants old stores in La Crosse to be considered for housing

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While La Crosse and other cities try to figure out how to use former K-Mart and Shopko stores, a recent city planner for La Crosse says those sites should be considered for housing and neighborhood centers. 

Jason Gilman stepped down as city planner a year ago, but he offered ideas to improve local housing during a community forum last night.     

“We can take advantage of these vacated big-box retail sites that were very auto-centric, but now they can serve the purpose of infusing a corridor…with housing and neighborhood centers to create that type of environment,” says Gilman.

During the forum on housing, Gilman said new houses don’t have to be as big as ones that have been built since the 80’s and 90’s, and the number of people who can afford homes that size isn’t growing much.  He also wants to see families be less resistant to having apartment buildings put up near their homes.          

Gilman also said he is watching the discussion about a collapsed condo near Miami, and says     communities have to figure out ways to make housing units safe, and affordable. 

He believes government officials and housing owners may have been negligent in keeping the damaged condo in good shape.

“Miami-Dade was only certifying these buildings once every 40 years,” he says. “It was left to the condo association to make what was estimated at 15 million in repairs, and that doesn’t always work.”    

Gilman believes that cities like La Crosse should do more to develop new housing within the city boundaries, instead of following policies which encourage suburban sprawl. 

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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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nick

    June 29, 2021 at 7:29 am

    The article is scant on details. Does he mean taking the big vacant stores down first? Who would be responsible? I would imagine these older stores have asbestos and if so then there has to be special handling and quite expensive.
    The big problem: NOT IN MY BACKYARD

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