Small town, big opportunities
The City of La Crescent has big opportunities. Nestled between the bluffs and the marsh along the west shore of the Mississippi River, La Crescent has little land into which it can grow outward. But with just a five-minute drive to downtown La Crosse, Wisc., this city of 5,000 residents has the potential to add new housing and commercial space to its downtown that could attract a variety of new residents and visitors, and it acknowledged this in its 2016 Comprehensive Plan. The challenge? Accepting and encouraging narrower streets and multi-story redevelopment in a place where residents are accustomed to the way things are today.
City’s downtown planning encourages economic development
The City retained MSA to continue the work begun in the comprehensive planning process, which encouraged downtown reinvestment. Our Planning & Design Studio worked with local stakeholders to explore the details of redevelopment so that everyone could see and understand the potential. Beginning with walking tours and proceeding through a series of site illustrations, we helped residents see how three- and four-story buildings can fit in Downtown La Crescent. We designed streetscapes for primary downtown streets with more green space, including a new pocket park to facilitate public gathering and outdoor dining along Main Street. And we spent time to work out parking, to show that parking can remain convenient through a combination of public and below-grade parking lots without giving up valuable sites along Main Street. The resulting plan is guiding efforts to encourage the redevelopment of key sites, including the planned replacement of City Hall as a catalyst downtown project.