City council approves Confluence Project rezoning request - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City council approves Confluence Project rezoning request

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A major downtown project sees a strong show of support.  Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council took up the Confluence Project.

On the table was a rezoning request and the general development plan.  There are many more steps to go before it's ultimately voted up or down.

Council member Dave Duax says, "If this isn't the opportunity of the decade, when will it be?"

Before the vote, all eleven council members weighed in. 

"This project not only offers the downtown revitalization but is critical to the growth of our city," says council member  Jackie Pavelski.

Along with the unanimous vote, council members addressed the obstacles that lie ahead.

Council member Bob Von Haden says, "A lot of effort has been put into this so far, but yet, we've seen very little hard facts on this."

Council member Andrew Werthmann brought up funding. He says, "Financially, how is this going to work out? And the answer is, I don't know, at this point and I think we're still waiting to see how all these pieces are going to fit together,"

And those pieces, are what could make or break it.

"For this to be successful we need the community to buy in," says Von Haden.

Council member Larry Balow says, "When we get to the final vote, hopefully, everybody in the city of Eau Claire and everybody that is listening, will be on the same page. And if the city of Eau Claire does make that next step to commit $10 million, that we're going to have the majority of the city behind us."

The approval of the rezoning includes the debated South Barstow St. buildings. Developers say they are in contact with the Wisconsin Historical Society about the fate of those buildings.

One council member pointed out, it may be time to let go of what downtown Eau Claire used to be. "The downtown isn't going to be the retail hub that it was in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. If we think that's how we're going to vitalize our downtown, we're making a mistake," explained council member Mark Olson.  

The next stop is Eau Claire County. The project is seeking $5 million from the county to help pay for construction costs.

Tuesday,  the city council also signed off on a deal with the YMCA.  The Y had purchased land from the city, off Menomonie Street to build a new facility.  The council has agreed to swap that land with the Y for city-owned land on Galloway Street, where the Y now hopes to build.

"I think the next 10 to 15 years will show that this location actually becomes a better and better location, as time passes. I think that's the hope, is that it grows into this location," says Werthmann.  

"I have a lot of reservations about supporting the Galloway location, my top being that we would lose that South Barstow, or very central downtown location for our community," says council member Catherine Emmanuelle

The Y says the cost to build a new facility will be around $15 million.  So far, it's raised about $8 million.

The city also separated the big dogs from the small ones. Tuesday, the council accepted a $10,000 donation to help build a small dog area at the Otter Creek Dog park.  The donor wanted a special area reserved for small dogs.

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The Eau Claire City Council has approved a rezoning request as part of the Confluence Project.

Tuesday night, the council approved the request to rezone property on Graham Avenue and Barstow Street, along with the Confluence Project's general development plan.

The council voted to accept a $10,000 donation to help build a small dog area at the Otter Creek dog park.  It also approved a land transfer with the YMCA for property on Galloway Street.

WQOW News 18 had a reporter at the meeting and will have more on our 10 PM Report. 

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The Eau Claire City Council is set to vote on several measures that could bring some new development to the city.

Tonight the Eau Claire City Council will vote whether or not to rezone property on Graham Avenue and Barstow Street. The rezoning is part of the confluence project. The $85 million development includes student housing, retail space and a community arts center. A public hearing was held last night. The council could also vote on the project's general development plan.

Some other items on the agenda for tonight include whether to accept a $10,000 donation to help build a small dog area at the Otter Creek Dog Park along with awarding a contract for construction.

The council will also consider a land transfer with the YMCA. The Y wants to swap land it owns on Menomonie Street with the city for land on Galloway Street where the Y wants to build a new facility.

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