Eau Claire exploring ways to give downtown a face lift - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire exploring ways to give downtown a face lift


Eau Claire (WQOW) - On Monday a city council subcommittee looked at the types of businesses that could see success if they were to change their address. They also looked at the role the Confluence Project could play in it all.

"We've been trying for years to revitalize the downtown," says Mark Olson, who sits on the Economic Policy Advisory Committee.  

The Confluence Project could be the answer. But, like many ideas turned reality, it takes money to get there.

Olson says, "The tax revenue really isn't completely there to finance all that wants to be done."

Developers of the Confluence Project are asking the city for a total investment of about $10 million.

"For infrastructure, things the city's going to have to do to help the developer make this concept come true," says Olson.  

There's a lot that needs to be done before that can happen. Adding more successful businesses downtown will help to expand the tax revenue and reduce the burden on residential tax payers. 

Monday night, members of the Economic Policy Advisory Committee, looked at what already exists in Eau Claire's downtown... And what's missing.

"The study can help us look at how can we bring some businesses in, how can we be establishing that tax base that's going to be needed to generate the revenue to make all these improvements," explains Olson.

Home furnishing stores are just one example of the type of business downtown has plenty of. While, a general merchandise store, is less common.

Plus, about 50 downtown buildings are currently empty.

Olson says, "We did make the recommendation that the property owners with vacant property in the downtown area be sent this information so that they can try finding tenants to come in there."

The committee also talked about the possibility of re-purposing some buildings already in use, for example, the school district's central office building. Only about half of the building space is used.  They could relocate the tenants and renovate the building for other use. These are all just ideas, nothing has been decided.  

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