The city of La Crosse is proposing nearly tripling rent for land at the mobile home park Rivercrest Village, but owners have indicated they won’t sign the lease at those rates.
La Crosse’s City Plan Commission voted on Tuesday to refer a decision for a month while more negotiations take place, though both sides expressed they stood firmly on the issue.
The city has leased part of the land for the South Side mobile home park since 1997, after the city acquired it with the construction of the Pammel Creek flood channel. That 25-year rental agreement expired last year but was extended to this summer.
The property in question is a parcel specifically home to about six homes on northern tip of Rivercrest Village, according to maps and officials, which is just a small segment of the entire mobile home park of 178 lots.
Those with Rivercrest have expressed interest in purchasing the land rather than continuing to lease it from the city, though the city is hoping for more time to explore selling it because it’s an “awkward” property, according to city planner Andrea Trane, meaning easements or other adaptations may be needed.
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The city wants to enter into another year-long lease with Rivercrest while it explores the possibility of selling the property. That additional year would come at a high cost, though.
Trane said that the rent for the property has been adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The first annual payment was $2,380 and 25 years later in 2021 it was $3,892.
But Trane said amid discussions about the property’s future, the city’s assessment office has since reevaluated the property, bringing the annual payment up to $9,600, which is nearly triple what was paid last year.
Nate Anderegg, a manager at Nicolai Apartments, which manages Rivercrest Village, said that the owners are unwilling to agree to those rates.
“As it stands right now, we would not sign a lease at that new rate,” he said, saying the owners had made it “very clear.”
He said, “I’m not sure what those six homes would do if the city would require them to vacate. You know, you’d have six more homeless people in the city.”
Trane emphasized that if the lease is not renewed, that the mobile homes on the property would need to be removed.
“They understand the repercussions of not signing that lease at this point,” Trane said.
She said she was open to the 30-day referral, but said she remained confident in the valued amount and rent rate. She said it would ultimately be up to the city council to decide, though.
“I’m open to negotiating, I just feel very strongly that we need to stand firm and value our property in this community,” Trane said.
Anderegg said that if owners knew for certain whether or not they could purchase the property at the end of the year-long lease, they would be more open to the rates.
“We’re not going to pay $9,000 per year,” he said.
This item will still need to go through the Finance & Personnel Committee on Thursday and then through the full Common Council next week before the 30-day referral is final.
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“I’m not sure what those six homes would do if the city would require them to vacate. You know, you’d have six more homeless people in the city.”
Nate Anderegg, a manager at Nicolai Apartments, which manages Rivercrest Village
“They understand the repercussions of not signing that lease at this point. … I’m open to negotiating, I just feel very strongly that we need to stand firm and value our property in this community.”
Andrea Trane, city planner