Chippewa Falls looking to purchase property damaged in fire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa Falls looking to purchase property damaged in major fire

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - A lot was on the line at the Chippewa Falls City Council meeting Tuesday night.  Actually, two lots were. The city council will make an offer to buy two properties in the downtown area.   

Chippewa Falls City Planner, Jayson Smith, says, "We just authorized to make an offer to purchase on the Hong Kong building site."

The city of Chippewa Falls also wants to buy the neighboring building, Tan-Fastic. Smith says, "We have made an offer to purchase but we haven't heard back."

The city wasn't planning on pursuing these properties until recently. They are only available because of last year's fire. Last summer, both properties were damaged in a major fire along Spring Street.  The Hong Kong building had to be demolished. 

"With the fire and then the damage to the adjacent building, it just opens up a bit more opportunity, to acquire some properties and add that to some of the development of the downtown entrance plan," says Smith.

That plan has been in the works for several years, the goal is to make the downtown more inviting and create economic opportunities.  One change that could come as soon as this spring is the construction of the new SEH building. The company is relocating to the Three Flags Parking Lot.

Chippewa Falls City Council Member, Chuck Hull, says, "The Tan-Fastic building next to them would be a help in aiding that project, by having that cleared out as well. If this building remains, they need to have a fire wall and no windows on the side. If the building is gone, it just opens some opportunities for them."

The city wants to turn the two sites into extra parking lots. Smith says, "We have numerous businesses on Spring St. that rely on that parking lot. So with the SEH parking lot and the loss of that parking at the three flags lot, this gives us an opportunity to replace that."

Using the property for a parking lot could just be temporary. Hull says, "It's just too good of a location and too nice of a place to remain that way."

The mayor of Chippewa Falls, Greg Hoffman, says they're still in negotiations, so there's no word on how much the city is offering for the properties. 

One important thing to mention, the properties would be purchased with TIF money.

That money is generated from an agreement the city has with EOG.  The money must be used to pay for improvements in the downtown area, or the Seymour Cray Boulevard area. 

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