Confluence Project could mean business relocations - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Confluence Project could mean business relocations


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A major development announcement Tuesday still has a lot of people talking.

Tuesday, we learned about the Confluence Project in Downtown Eau Claire.  A public-private partnership wants to build a community arts center and a six-story building that would be home to commercial and retail space, along with student housing.

As mentioned Tuesday night, we have questions about the businesses that may have to be relocated for the project to happen.

"Moving our chocolate equipment would probably be the most problematic" says Obsession Chocolate owner Rebecca Flynn. 

This is one of the issues Rebecca could foresee if her shop were to relocate. 

Flynn says, "I did find out yesterday about the Confluence Project, I knew something was up earlier because I was told by my landlord to expect an announcement around the 15th."

Right now the expansion of the downtown project to part of Barstow Street is not a sure thing. 

"The expansion to North Barstow involves some community dialogue about balancing the historic preservation and the likelihood of somebody actually investing in those buildings to restore them" says Commonweal Development Vice President Dan Clumpner. 

"When I first heard about it I was very concerned but there's just no need until we know for one hundred percent certainty what's going to happen" says Flynn. 

Clumpner says if businesses along this stretch are relocated... They'll be given about a year to do so once decisions are made.

He says, "We intend to communicate with each directly and individually within the next week or so.  But we'll start working with them immediately on the process."

"Obsession Chocolate has always been a destination business, in other words our customers find us. Getting the word out to the customers is oftentimes the most problematic, making sure they know where we've moved to. That would probably be the most difficult of moving" says Flynn. 

But for now... Flynn says, "Business as usual until the usual becomes... Not."

We did ask about the negotiation process between developers and businesses.  Developers told us they weren't comfortable talking about that. 

They did tell us they're currently working on state funding which, they hope, will support more than half of the community arts center.  Altogether, the project is expected to cost around 85-million dollars.

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