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Gilman presents River Point to North La Crosse Business Association

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A rendering of the Rykey Gateway Commons for La Crosse's River Point District.

The “Gateway to downtown” is what Jason Gilman calls the River Point District, currently in development in La Crosse.

Gilman, the district’s project manager, gave an update on the plan to the North La Crosse Business Association (NLBA) last month. He was invited to present for the NLBA since a majority of the project is being built on the north side and could impact many local businesses there. 

Gilman was also on WIZM’s La Crosse Talk PM last week.



The River Point District project is a $300 million development, which is being built on a 65-acre site — 28 of which is being developed.

The overarching goal of the project is to revitalize the former Mobil Oil industrial property into a mixed-use waterfront neighborhood, while supporting the existing historic downtown La Crosse.

The project also aims to “seamlessly connect the community to the rivers and downtown.” 

Project’s Basic Facts: 

  • $300 Million Project 
  • 65 acre site 
  • Mixed-use waterfront neighborhood 
  • 1,200 Housing Units 
  • Timeline: Infrastructure Phases 2 and 3 will be done by the end of the year, with developers on a 3– and 4-year timeline. 
  • Located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Black River and La Crosse rivers – current construction can be seen on Copeland Avenue, across from Festival Foods

History 

The La Crosse community knows the district as the former Mobil Oil site, but many may be unaware of the historical importance of the location.

Adjacent to the actual development area are two archaeological sites. The most famous of these is where the historical War Eagle sank. The riverboat was used in the Civil War to transport troops and supplies. In 1870 it crashed on the shore of La Crosse. The area is now a state registered historic site as ship remnants are still present. 

The other archaeological site is called the Peavey Site, where pre and early settlement artifacts were discovered, although there are no standing historic structures. Years later, this site was sold to Mobil Oil. 

Unlike the short-sighted vision that Mobil Oil had, the River Point District project is planned for longevity.

A vital way that longevity is being ensured is the decision to go above and beyond the required minimum 200-year flood plain level, and instead, build the concrete foundation above the 500-year level. This demonstrates a true investment in the future of this community and its longevity. 

Quadruple Bottom Line Impact

While outlining the project to the NBLA, Gilman emphasized the project’s “quadruple bottom line impact.”

Traditionally, a quadruple bottom line impact includes the four core pillars of “profit, planet, people and purpose.

River Point took these pillars into consideration and transformed them into something meaningful for the community, focusing on “economic (profit), environmental (planet), social (people) and cultural (purpose)” intents.

During the presentation, various components of the project that support these pillars were highlighted. 

Economic and Cultural Components: 

One notable economic and cultural component is the rejection of a proposal from Costco, which was interested in the site but was ultimately turned down due to the perceived negative impact on local businesses and the two historic sites adjacent to the development area.

Another economic component is the proximity to local restaurants and businesses, including not only the new business fronts in the mixed-use properties but also the pre-existing downtown businesses. 

The project is supporting the local economy by using local developers and contractors. This initiative was pushed for by La Crosse’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA). The local developers on the project are Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions, Roush Rentals and Red Earth LLC.

A local contractor that was mentioned in the presentation was Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. 

Social Components: 

Various social components were highlighted, some of which are access to transportation, welcoming diversity and a condensed and vertical development of the buildings – which promotes a more close-knit community. 

Environmental Components: 

The environmental impact of the project has been thoroughly considered. The River Point District project is working with the La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department to enhance the walkable design by connecting trails within the community to Riverside Park. 

The connection to La Crosse’s downtown area is why, during the presentation, Gilman titled the project as the “Gateway to downtown.” 

They are also working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure the environmental impact of the project is kept to a minimum. One way they are doing so is by providing mostly first-floor parking, which mitigates vapor pollution through proper ventilation and a working HVAC system. 

River Point District: A Work in Progress 

While the buzz around the River Point District project is gaining traction, there is still much to be done.

The project is only in Phase 2, “implementation,” and has a long way to go before it can become the, “vibrant, contemporary, mixed-use waterfront neighborhood,” which it aspires to be. 

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