by ZACH KAYSER
Negotiations over developing the 60 Main property — the city-owned parking lot behind the Winona 7 cinema in downtown Winona — will stretch further, as the Winona Port Authority approved extending the timeline for creating a contract between the city and developers to June 30, 2022. The city has been seeking to develop the site since 2017. Last week, city staff also said they are negotiating with the Union Pacific Railroad in an attempt to gain control of some of the unused railroad lines adjacent to the property and add to the developable area.
The Port Authority Commission unanimously approved a 10-month extension for negotiations with developers C.D. Smith, Latsch Development and Rivers Hospitality. C.D. Smith is a Madison-based construction management firm that played a large role in the redevelopment downtown La Crosse, Wis., and is currently working on Fastenal’s new riverfront office building. Latsch Development is the local company, headed by Peter Shortridge and Mike Gostomski, behind the 111 Riverfront, 102 Walnut Street, and Latsch buildings in downtown Winona. Winona-based Rivers Hospitality owns several existing hotels in the city.
The extension comes on top of an earlier extension the Port made in February. The agenda item request said that, besides discussing plans with the developers, Port Authority staff had been busy on the city’s end, as well. “Port staff have been working on updating the environmental documents to apply for a grant to clean-up the site,” staff said in the request. “Staff is working to assemble the rail storage area land to be incorporated into the development. All of these components have taken additional time.”
Interviewed after the meeting, McMartin said they were not yet at the point in negotiations that would cover possible subsidies such as tax breaks or selling the land with a discount. “We’re still trying to assemble the land, so to speak, so it’s a little premature to say,” she said.
Asked whether plans for the building had been refined beyond the general idea of a hotel and commercial space, McMartin said no. The Port Authority was still working on the question of how to get rid of disused railroad tracks adjacent to the lot, she said.
The railroad tracks had come up as an issue six months ago, when Mike Krolczyk, senior vice president of C.D. Smith, had mentioned them in comments during a Port Authority meeting.
Nick Larson, community development specialist for the city, said that it was not yet known what remediation would be needed precisely since the soil testing was still pending, and also unknown whether the city would pay for the remediation not financed by the grant. The Port expects results back later this month, Larson said.
Winona Post Editor Chris Rogers contributed to this report.