Mississippi Meats purchases property at former Blackhawk Junction Mall

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(Left to right) Chris Herbst, Nate Gilberts, Carl Colsch and Bob Standorff stand outside Crawford County Title Services after finalizing Mississippi Meats’ purchase of their property at the former Blackhawk Junction Mall. (Steve Van Kooten/Courier Press)

By Steve Van Kooten


Chris Herbst and Carl Colsch, owners of Mississippi Meats, purchased their business’ property and the gym space next door from the city on May 22 at Crawford County Title in Prairie du Chien.

Mississippi Meats, which opened in January 2017, plans to expand its grocery shopping options with the newly acquired space.

“Originally, we were interested in a new facility,” Herbst wrote to the Courier Press. “This was a large risk, but at the same time, with interest rates at the time hanging around four percent and cost of materials reasonable [sic], it was a doable project.”

COVID-19 changed the business’ trajectory; the costs of a new facility skyrocketed, making the move even more risky. Four years later, the city’s attempt to revitalize the area gave Herbst and Colsch a new opportunity to stay where they made their name and grow even larger.

“We are fortunate to be welcomed by this community so many years ago, and [we] would have it no other way. We would never consider leaving this end of town or the City of Prairie du Chien.”

Bob Standorf, chairman of the city’s redevelopment authority, said the city acquired the area from the county in 2019. Now called Prairie Bluffs Court, it includes the former Blackhawk Junction Mall, which houses Mississippi Meats, H & R Block, Driftless Development and Royal Bank. This area includes property between Wisconsin Street and Blackhawk Avenue and Dousman Road to the city’s fire station.

“It’s a big chunk of property in the city, and who knows what the county would do with it?” he said.

According to Standorf, the city and county have access to different funding sources from state and federal agencies, and they wanted to address needs in the city, including housing.

“Rather than making it all residential or all commercial, we decided there was need for both,” said City Planner Nate Gilberts.

Besides Mississippi Meats, a housing developer placed three properties within Prairie Bluffs Court. Royal Bank has already started construction on a new building in Bridgeport.

Gilberts said the city anticipates the rest of the former Blackhawk Junction Mall (north of Mississippi Meats) will be torn down before the end of the year. The newly opened space will be made available for new businesses and construction.

“Once that building is down, we will be redoing the parking lot over there, bringing in new utilities, water and sewer to Mississippi Meats,” said Gilberts. “And if anything develops on the east, we’ll be doing the same thing, putting in new utilities.”

Tearing down the northern portion of the mall is funded through a neighborhood investment fund, a program through the Wisconsin Department of Administration that awards grants to municipalities for long-term community investment projects. According to the DOA, the City of Prairie du Chien has been granted $1,624,816 toward revitalization and blight elimination projects. Gilberts confirmed that the award is toward the Prairie Bluffs Court project.

The area was determined to be blighted in 2019.

Prairie Bluffs Court is a tax-incremental district, which allows the city to pay for improvements within the district with future taxes that will be collected on the area’s increased values.

For now, Mississippi Meats will begin a long process to design and plan their new facilities, including the expansion. Herbst plans to inform the community of the changes as they come to fruition. “Everything happens for a reason, and [all through] chaotic times we have been very blessed and will do everything in our power to be, hopefully, considered a predominant part of this community.”

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