New downtown development in the works - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New downtown development in the works

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority passed a motion Wednesday that could bring more jobs downtown.

JAMF Software wants to expand and is interested in moving from Graham Avenue, right next door to RCU.

"We are in a spot where either we need to find a good place down here or we aren't going to be able to stay down here," says JAMF co-founder Zach Halmstad.

The company makes software for Apple.  Right now, it employs more than 170 workers, 90 are based in Eau Claire.  JAMF plans to more than double its workforce in the coming years.

"Our office space starts to get really, really tight," Halmstad explains.  "Our expansion plans that we have are very limited right now.  So what we are proposing to the city is to allow us to build on lot 2 next to the RCU building."

That space is used as a parking lot for RCU employees.  If the software company's plans continue to move forward, a temporary parking area would be set up across the street from The Livery.

"We are going to set aside lot 7 for additional parking and then we are going to open up the development agreement with RCU to look at the sale to JAMF," says Eau Claire City Manager Russel Van Gompel.  "And we will actually also be incorporating a new development agreement for JAMF."

RCU had a contract with the city; and in that contract, it could've built a second office next to its headquarters.

"They have determined that they don't need the two spots," Van Gompel points out.

JAMF would like to take over that contract.  If approved, the city would be responsible for paying for cleanup costs on the land.  Under the RCU contract, the city would cover cleanup costs up to $300,000.  JAMF and RCU are also asking for a permanent parking solution.

One option is to build a new parking ramp at the site of the post office with a ramp that would be two to three stories high, with one underground level.

"This is going to be a long, drawn-out process," relents Van Gompel.  "It will go through four or five different phases and we have to have it planned in an orderly fashion to continue to provide parking for the needs in the North Barstow and Phoenix Park area."

"We've always wanted to be downtown.  We feel coming down here brings people from all over the city and all over the Chippewa Valley down to one spot.  It's where there is energy and we see the potential," Halmstad explains.  "There are a lot of things that aren't here right now that we wish we had for our employees, but with all the talk about the Confluence Project, we see this amazing future that the downtown could have."

The next step will be for an agreement to be drawn up between RCU, JAMF and the city.  The Eau Claire City Council will discuss the expansion project on Monday.  More than one third of JAMF's employees graduated from UW-Eau Claire.

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