Progress report on downtown developments - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Progress report on downtown developments

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire's Development Authority has published it's first progress report on redevelopments within the city.

"There has to be some feasibility in a project.  There has to be a reason to go somewhere and do something," says President at Commonweal Development Corporation, Stuart Schaefer.

It's the city of Eau Claire's job to sell its value to developers and revamp slower economic areas.

"There's five different redevelopment districts.  Some of them are in different stages.  Some of them are done completely, others are a work in progress," says Eau Claire Economic Development Coordinator, Mike Schatz.

Some projects move along faster than others, for example, plans for the South Barstow re-development area, where the confluence project would be located began two years ago.

"We did get involved in the Riverfront Terrace Apartment Project as well, so that project moved along a little quicker than the Confluence and those two buildings are actually already completed and occupied," says Schaefer.

In an ideal situation the developers bring businesses and renters into the redevelopment areas and the city can see returns close to 200%.

"We've spent about $21 million over those five different districts.  But we've got a return of over $40 million in new valuation from that," says Schatz.

But not all investments can be characterized through facts and figures.

"How do you really quantify the benefit that the Phoenix Park area has had for the City of Eau Claire?  I mean so many people go down there and enjoy it," says Schaefer.

And more people downtown could also lead to better odds of launching a profitable enterprise.

"When you have statistics like this it certainly shows and you can use it in your marketing efforts to do other redevelopment projects and to build on the successes that we've already had," says Schatz.

"What's motivated us to become a lot more active down there is two-fold.  We think there's opportunity down there, but we also think that the community could really use a stronger downtown," says Schaefer.

Advancing the Eau Claire economy to the top by starting downtown.

The city's development authority is hoping this report will support a proposed parking ramp in the North Barstow area because it shows such positive return on investment.

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