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A new chapter for the Library Block?
Construction could start next year on $21 million project
The Block, Scott & Heenan Law Offices and Block Apartments ar the site of the former Cunningham Hospital. The building is on the northeast corner of the Library Block, for which a development of up to 21,000 square feet is proposed, including a 22,000-square-foot Platteville Public Library, a hotel, multifamily housing, a new clinic to replace Neighborhood Health Partners, and retail space. - photo by Photo by Michael Prestegard

Platteville’s Library Block — bordered by West Main, South Chestnut, West Pine and South Elm streets — has been, if not a fantasy, then a what-if in the mind of city officials for several years.

Developing the Library Block, including a new Platteville Public Library, may be in the process of becoming more than speculative fiction.

Troy Hoekstra of United Development Solutions of Sauk Rapids, Minn., reported to the Platteville Common Council in a work session March 11 on progress toward redeveloping the Library Block as early as 2015 and 2016.

The Library Block presently includes the library, the Block, Scott & Heenan Law Offices and Block Apartments, the Neighborhood Health Partners clinic, a dance studio, a real estate office, three houses, and a 16-stall parking lot shared by the library and First English Lutheran Church. Block, Scott & Heenan’s building is the former Cunningham Hospital.

The project would replace those buildings with a new 22,000-square-foot library, a hotel, multifamily housing, a replacement health clinic, and “traditional retail.” Hoekstra estimates the total value of the four- or five-story project at $19 million to $21 million.

Hoekstra said he has worked with property owners for the past six months, and expects to complete purchase agreements within “30 to 45 days,” with a goal of May 1. He said he is working with agreements with architecture and engineering, general contracting and management companies, plus a fundraising consulting firm.

“If this group can’t get this project done, I don’t think this project can be done,” said Hoekstra.

Under Hoekstra’s timetable, construction on the new buildings could start as early as June 2015, to be completed by August 2016.

The Library Block project is patterned on a larger project, 5th Avenue Live, near St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. That project includes housing for more than 450 St. Cloud State students, plus 32,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The Platteville library, which serves as the central resource library for five surrounding counties, is crammed into 10,450 square feet at its current location.

“All options are on the table relative to apartments,” said Hoekstra. “Naturally, we would want to target students if possible. There’s potential for any kind of housing; it depends on who controls it.”

The hotel would have 52 to 70 rooms “depending on what other use of space develops,” he said.

The Library Block project includes a 220-car above-ground parking lot. While earlier proposals included underground parking, Hoekstra said an underground lot was “not economically feasible,” costing about $3 million for a maximum of 140 stalls.

So far, the city has spent $25,000 in Library Board funds on a study by Economic Development Partners, LLC. To go ahead with the project will require rezoning and probably creation of a Planned Unit Development plan on the site, which is in the city’s Tax Incremental Financing District 7, said City Manager Larry Bierke.

Other UDS projects in development include a $4.5 million 52-room hotel in Mount Horeb, a 90-unit hotel across the street from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and a $10.6 million hotel/restaurant/office/retail project in Hudson.