Downtown demolition draws spectators to sidewalks - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Downtown demolition draws spectators to sidewalks

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Downtown demolition continued on S. Barstow St. in Eau Claire Tuesday. There is only one more building that needs to be torn down to make way for the Confluence Project, it's the one closest to the river.

For the last several weeks it's been a repeat performance. S.Barstow St. serves as the stage. General admission for the sidewalk seating is free. The name of the show is Downtown Demolition, for some that title means letting go of the past.

Buzz Bennett, from Eau Claire, says, "I used to work at the fashion store."

I think it's really a sad day for the history in Eau Claire. I'm really proud of the people who tried to save these historic buildings and I'm a little disappointed in those who didn't see the value in saving them," says Eau Claire City Council Member Dave Strobel.  

For others, it holds the promise of something new. Janice Tillema, from Eau Claire, says, "I just don't think you should save something that's just not savable. I think downtown Eau Claire needs a change and this is it!"

Bennett says, "It has seen it's time, you know. It was an old building and I think this is a good deal, to have something new downtown here."

And while it can't be undone city leaders, like Strobel, want to make sure Barstow's brand new look will satisfy community expectations. Strobel says, "You can't ever replace those historic buildings. I think there were a lot of promises made by the developers about the design of the building and it was going to blend in with the rest of the downtown area and I think that's something the council should look at."

Construction workers say they expect the final building will come down by the end of this week. They didn't have an exact date because they say it all depends on how each day goes.

A site plan for part of the Confluence Project, a building featuring retail space and student housing, will go before the parks and waterways commission Wednesday. Those plans call for up to 3 restaurants, a walkway and patio along the river and 119 housing units which could fit as many as 375 students. The commission will vote on the plans Wednesday night at 7.
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