Watch now: Downtown redevelopment becomes boon for East Side neighborhood – La Crosse Tribune

Get local news delivered to your inbox!
The announcements of the departures were made early this year, about a month apart and were a blow to the Downtown business district.
A Room of One’s Own bookstore and Community Pharmacy had been staples of the central city since the 1970s and neighbors since 2011.
They were among the oldest businesses on or near State Street and beloved for their local ownership, customer service and Madison vibe.
A proposed redevelopment at the corner of State and West Gorham streets in the form of a high-rise apartment building with pricey ground-floor commercial space forced the moves, but both pharmacy and bookstore have found new foundations with character, community, less expensive rents and business models designed to secure their future.
Misian Taylor arranges books at A Room of One’s Own, 2717 Atwood Ave., which recently moved from Downtown, where the store had been a staple since the 1970s.
A Room of One’s Own allowed customers into their new space at 2717 Atwood Ave. for the first time this past week to reveal a slightly smaller space than their Downtown location, but one with high ceilings, wood beams and skylights added to the building that was constructed in 1916.
Community Pharmacy is a few blocks away in a brick building constructed in 1925 at 130 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Adjacent to a new apartment building with another across the street, it includes a parking lot and a well-organized retail space, multiple windows, a homeopathic section, built-in shelving and historic signage.
Technician Karen Solien helps a customer at the pharmacy counter in the new space on South Fair Oaks Avenue for Community Pharmacy. The business was founded in 1972 and is now housed in a brick building constructed in 1925 near Garver Feed Mill and a bike path.
The moves to the East Side were not coordinated but are strong additions to one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods that includes shops, restaurants, Olbrich Botanical Gardens and the restored Garver Feed Mill.
“It’s really awesome,” said Barb Brown, who has worked at Community Pharmacy since 1985. “I am so happy that we ended up virtually in the same neighborhood. We have been next to each other for decades … and I’m glad we’re still within a couple of blocks. The whole Atwood neighborhood is lovely.”
In January, a Chicago company that specializes in large housing projects in college communities proposed a more than $100 million, 10-story structure fronting the 300 block of State Street with 481 units, retail space and parking that would raze most of a Downtown block that had been home to the bookstore, pharmacy and Gap store, along with Chaser’s Bar & Grill, Red Rock Saloon and Terry’s Car Care.
The project would include 14,800 square feet of retail space at the corner of State and West Gorham streets, 5,575 square feet of retail space and 2,500 square feet of business incubator space on West Johnson Street, with 278 parking spaces.
There have been calls to retain some of the historic buildings in the proposed redevelopment. But for Community Pharmacy and A Room of One’s Own, it offered an opportunity to better position the businesses both physically and fiscally.
A Room of One’s Own opened to walk-in customers on Oct. 3 and has quickly become melded into its East Side neighborhood. The building was constructed in 1916 for the Madison Motor Car Co.
“We both really lucked out with both of these locations,” said Caide Jackson, who has worked at the bookstore for two years and oversees queer literature. “We’ve essentially been gentrified out of our spaces.”
The bookstore has been closed to walk-in business since March 2020 but has survived with online sales. Remodeling of the new space, at one time the home of Madison Motor Car Co. but more recently Threshold, an event and business incubator space, began in April with the move from the Downtown beginning at the end of July.
When the new store opened to walk-in customers on Oct. 3 there was a line outside for most of the day as the store only allows 30 people at a time inside the business due to COVID-19 concerns.
Sydne Conant organizes books in the front window of A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. The store opened to walk-in traffic on Oct. 3 after closing to in-person shopping in March 2020.
Located just a short walk from Stalzi’s Deli, St. Bernard Catholic Church, Starkweather Brewing Co. and Daisy Café & Cupcakery, the shelves are filled with works of nonfiction, politics, poetry, history, cooking and children’s titles. There’s also a room dedicated to science fiction and fantasy that includes a cardboard cutout of one of the bookstore’s co-owners, Patrick Rothfuss, a Wisconsin native and nationally acclaimed, award-winning fiction author.
In 2018, Rothfuss, along with longtime store employees Gretchen Treu and Jes Lukes, purchased the bookstore from Sandi Torkildson, who co-founded the business in 1975 in a 2,000-square-foot space at 317 W. Johnson St. The store, its name taken from a phrase in a Virginia Woolf essay, moved to a 3,000-square-foot space at 307 W. Johnson St. in 1997 and doubled its size in 2011 when it moved next to Community Pharmacy and into space that included past tenants Avol’s Books, Canterbury Booksellers and The Factory, a bar that hosted Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and where a year earlier Otis Redding was scheduled to play before his plane crashed into Lake Monona, killing the singer.
Customers browse the bookshelves at A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. 
The base rent for the stunning 4,500-square-foot Atwood Avenue space, which feels larger due to its high ceilings, is about half the rent the store was paying at its former 5,000-square-foot Downtown location at 315 W. Gorham.
Sam Faulkner, who has been with the store for five years, said there is less space for used books and limited storage, and there were initially concerns about losing walk-in traffic if they moved from Downtown. Those concerns have quickly been put to rest.
“I think it shows how deep the roots are among the community here,” Faulkner said. “The amount of response we got from the community who live right around here let us know that these are people who live here, they’ve raised families here or they grew up in this neighborhood themselves. The relief they had that we would be closer to them lets us know how much a treasured local institution Room of One’s Own is.”
Community Pharmacy on South Fair Oaks Avenue is adjacent to an apartment building and across the street from another.
At Community Pharmacy, business is up 10% and rent on the space, which is about 1,700 square feet smaller than the Downtown location, is about 60% less.
A large opening was cut into the brick wall on the building’s north side to create a pharmacy counter while the exterior signs from the Downtown location hang inside. There are also signs salvaged from the basement of the old location that go back to the early days of the business.
Outside there is a patio, parking lot, an adjacent bike path and room for a garden.
A vintage sign from the early days of Community Pharmacy is displayed on a wall of the store’s new digs at 130 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
The pharmacy was founded in 1972 at 666 State St. as Wisconsin Student Association Pharmacy and switched to a workers collective model in 1974. The business moved to its most recent Downtown location location in 1984 and became a worker cooperative in 1995. It’s believed to be the only, or one of the very few, pharmacies in the country that’s a worker-owned co-op.
The pharmacy, which also has a Middleton location, has struggled in recent years. Customer counts have continued to drop and declining reimbursements from insurance companies are failing to cover costs. An aging customer base, a shift to online shopping and the departure of other longtime retailers from State Street added to the pharmacy’s challenges.
Employee Kyah Fuller stocks the shelves at Community Pharmacy in Madison. Much of the shelving in the new space was salvaged from the former Downtown location.
The move this summer has breathed new life and energy into the pharmacy.
“It’s been really heartening to see some of our same customers from Downtown visiting us at our new location,” said Brendan Schwaab, who helped orchestrate the move. “It’s been lovely to get to to know people in the neighborhood and to become part of the community and the neighborhood over here. After 49 years there’s still an important role in the Madison community for our pharmacy.”
Community Pharmacy on South Fair Oaks Avenue is adjacent to an apartment building and across the street from another.
Technician Karen Solien helps a customer at the pharmacy counter in the new space on South Fair Oaks Avenue for Community Pharmacy. The business was founded in 1972 and is now housed in a brick building constructed in 1925 near Garver Feed Mill and a bike path.
Customers browse the bookshelves at A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. 
Sydne Conant organizes books in the front window of A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. The store opened to walk-in traffic on Oct. 3 after closing to in-person shopping in March 2020.
A vintage sign from the early days of Community Pharmacy is displayed on a wall of the store’s new digs at 130 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Employee Kyah Fuller stocks the shelves at Community Pharmacy in Madison. Much of the shelving in the new space was salvaged from the former Downtown location.
Misian Taylor arranges books at A Room of One’s Own, 2717 Atwood Ave., which recently moved from Downtown, where the store had been a staple since the 1970s.
A Room of One’s Own opened to walk-in customers on Oct. 3 and has quickly become melded into its East Side neighborhood. The building was constructed in 1916 for the Madison Motor Car Co.
Richard Kilmer, a pharmacist at Community Pharmacy, 341 State Street, helps a customer Monday. The 3,942-square-foot stores sells a wide range of prescriptions, herbs, supplements, body care and homeopathic remedies.  Shoppers can even find greeting cards with the Beatles.
Chicory Poppinoff, an herbalist at Community Pharmacy, is shown here in a 2016 photo. Products in the herbal department include Wisconsin-grown ginseng and elderflower; yarrow, wild yam and shea butter.
Community Pharmacy, at State and West Gorham streets, has plans to move to the city’s East Side after opening Downtown almost 50 years ago.
The 46-year-old Room of One’s Own bookstore has been in its current location near the corner of State and W. Gorham streets since 2011. On Monday, owners announced they’d signed a 20-year lease on 2717 Atwood Ave.
Jes Lukes helps a customer at A Room of One’s Own bookstore on Wednesday. Lukes, 30, is one of three people purchasing the beloved bookstore in Downtown Madison.
David Harms, of Madison, browses through shelves of books at A Room of One’s Own bookstore, 315 W. Gorham St. The store will be moving to the Atwood neighborhood on Madison’s East Side.
Anne Perrote, of Madison, a longtime customer of A Room of One’s Own bookstore, tucks away purchases in her bicycle bag outside the book shop at 315 W. Gorham St., just a few yards off State Street. The store — its motto “Eat, Sleep, Read” — was founded in 1975 in a 2,000-square-foot space at 317 W. Johnson St. and in 1997 moved to a 3,000-square-foot space at 307 W. Johnson St. It doubled in size in 2011 when it moved to its current location next to Community Pharmacy and into space that had been home to Avol’s Books after the closing of Canterbury Booksellers.
Sandi Torkildson, right, co-owner of A Room of One’s Own bookstore, is selling the business to Gretchen Treu, who has worked at the store for the past 11 years, and two partners.
After a nearly two-year process, A Room of One’s Own bookstore, 315 W. Gorham St., is about to get new owners. Sandi Torkildson, who helped found the store in 1975, and Nancy Geary, have announced that an ownership group consisting of bookstore employees Gretchen Treu and Jes Lukes along with silent partner Patrick Rothfuss, an award-winning science fiction author from Stevens Point, will purchase the business on June 30. The store has 198,000 titles spread among 405,000 books of a variety of genres.
A bookstore can be a draw to not only locals but to visitors to the city. Edgar Francis of Stevens Point visited A Room of One’s Own bookstore in Madison last week.
A Room of One’s Own bookstore is located in space that at one time was home to Avol’s Books and, prior to that, Canterbury Books.
Sandi Torkildson, co-owner and one of five original founders of A Room of One’s Own bookstore in Madison, has announced that she and business partner Nancy Geary are selling the store. It was founded in 1975 on West Johnson Street and now occupies 6,000 square feet at 315 W. Gorham St. near State Street.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

“Each of them were ‘bright lights’ within our student body: positive, kind, funny, inclusive. The loss of their presence will impact our students and staff profoundly.”

Burlington’s city attorney said requiring the flag be taken down would likely be a free speech violation.

A woman who allegedly filmed herself abusing a person in her care pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts Thursday in Racine County Circuit Court.

A Baraboo man charged in Oconto County Circuit Court with accidentally shooting his sister in the neck has accepted a plea deal and awaits sentencing next month even as he and his father argue someone else is to blame.

“I can visit with them,” one veteran said of an Afghan family. “(But) if I were to give them any clothing or any money or any food, I could be arrested.” 

Officials identified human remains recovered in Chippewa County as a Reedsburg woman who was reported missing over a year ago.

Judge Robert Repischak didn’t mince words. “Honestly, ma’am, if you had pled to a felony, I would have sent you to prison,” he told the defendant.

A former UW-Whitewater student sued the UW System, alleging university employees failed to protect her and others.

A convicted murderer was denied a court-appointed attorney Wednesday because he has funds in a retirement account.

Two people were killed and three were critically injured when their Amish buggy was hit by a minivan on Sunday night in Grant County, authorities reported.
Community Pharmacy on South Fair Oaks Avenue is adjacent to an apartment building and across the street from another.
Technician Karen Solien helps a customer at the pharmacy counter in the new space on South Fair Oaks Avenue for Community Pharmacy. The business was founded in 1972 and is now housed in a brick building constructed in 1925 near Garver Feed Mill and a bike path.
A vintage sign from the early days of Community Pharmacy is displayed on a wall of the store’s new digs at 130 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Sydne Conant organizes books in the front window of A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. The store opened to walk-in traffic on Oct. 3 after closing to in-person shopping in March 2020.
Customers browse the bookshelves at A Room of One’s Own on Atwood Avenue. 
Employee Kyah Fuller stocks the shelves at Community Pharmacy in Madison. Much of the shelving in the new space was salvaged from the former Downtown location.
Misian Taylor arranges books at A Room of One’s Own, 2717 Atwood Ave., which recently moved from Downtown, where the store had been a staple since the 1970s.
A Room of One’s Own opened to walk-in customers on Oct. 3 and has quickly become melded into its East Side neighborhood. The building was constructed in 1916 for the Madison Motor Car Co.
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

source