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Residential development could be the new destination for the former branch library building in La Crosse

The former south branch library in La Crosse could be repurposed for housing.

A city development commission has approved a proposal to put six residential units in the library building on 16th Street and build more housing on other parts of the block.

On Wednesday, the Economic and Community Development Commission reviewed the plans of three potential developers before making a recommendation for a project called Willow Grove. Residents in the area have spoken out in support of ideas to preserve the old library, which opened in the 1950s.

“The proposal for Willow Grove shows a redevelopment of the inside of the library, meaning retaining the library building, and then an addition of two townhomes on the north side of that property,” said city Planning Director Andrea Trane. An additional residential unit proposed for the library block could be removed from the plan. City officials would have to negotiate with buyers before a development plan is finalized.

The city closed the South Branch library last year to save money, leaving the city with two public libraries, on Main Street and on the north side. At previous community meetings about the library building, residents said they would not want to see the building used as a homeless shelter or replaced by a company like Kwik Trip.