The past year has been a busy one for development projects in La Crosse, and several of these projects made headlines in 2021.
Some of them have seen a big move, after years of planning and discussion, like the development of River Point on the former Mobil Oil site.
Over the course of the year, dump trucks hauled thousands of cubic meters of soil to the riparian site just north of the Oktobefest lot, so the buildings will be above the flood level.
A first shovelful of dirt at River Point took place in June. That same month saw the opening of the Trane All-Abilities Park and Playground on the south side of La Crosse.
At the end of 2021, the end of another long-planned project was announced.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) said it would forgo attempts to build a north-south highway through the La Crosse River swamp – 23 years after voters voted in a referendum against the highway.
One of the largest construction projects in years for downtown La Crosse officially ended just before Christmas, when the Center La Crosse expansion was completed. Much of the civic center was closed for almost two years as exhibition areas were added or improved during the COVID-19 outbreak.
A new north hall was opened in March, and the end of the $ 42 million project was celebrated with a party on December 15, inside the extension built towards the riverside.
During the project, the Center was able to host high school WIAA basketball games for boys and girls.
Like the planning of Center La Crosse, other projects in 2021 took months of public hearings and board meetings before being approved.
One of them was the rezoning plan to allow for the remodeling of the old Riverside Park hatchery into an event center.
Some citizens claimed that the city was trying to rush the project without public participation. There were predictions of heavy traffic, loud parties and alcohol consumption.
Eventually, the city council and the park council approved the rezoning of the structure and a 20-year lease for the developers.
Another project that took time was the expansion of a Bethany Lutheran nursing home near the Gundersen health system in the southern part.
This drew criticism from neighbors, concerned about how many stories the new part would be and other developers would follow, nearly blocking the view of the Mississippi River.
This project went ahead, with city council revising zoning rules regarding building height in certain residential areas.