Eau Claire (WQOW) - Downtown Eau Claire's Annual Urban Living tour has been canceled this year, but Eau Claire's Economic Development said the tough decision came with good news.
Ryan Erickson with Commonweal Development Corporation in Eau Claire is closing deals, and doors in Phoenix Park.
"I think it's a great time for downtown Eau Claire," Erickson said.
Commonweal's apartments are 95 percent full, and they expect to have a waiting list within the month. Erickson said new companies are attracting outsiders to Eau Claire, like Jonathon Robinson, who moved to Phoenix Park after joining JAMF Software in 2013.
"I like the access to a lot of the nightlife and restaurants in the area," Robinson said. "I'm within walking distance of at least half a dozen restaurants, workplace, hospital if I need to go there. Anything important is here."
The lack of occupancy means Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated had to cancel its Urban Living Tour, because there just weren't enough empty apartments to showcase.
"I don't think we thought there was going to be as great of demand as there is, so we're very pleased about that," DECI Executive Director Mike Schatz said.
Residents who moved in time to score a space saw this coming.
"It doesn't surprise me one bit," Robinson said. "This is a very popular location. A lot of people are after an apartment here."
Demand keeps prices high with two-bedroom apartments ranging between $1,200 and $1,700 a month.
"Some of those that used to choose downtown as a low-rent option may not be as pleased, but that's how the cycles go," Schatz said. "We just want to do what we can do to really have good tenants for the owners of buildings and good housing options for the citizens of Eau Claire."
DECI said within six years, they've added 215 new units downtown, and gained almost 350 new residents.
"We're glad the existing ones are filled up," Schatz said. "We hope that we can bring some more housing downtown in the future."
DECI hopes to eventually add condominiums to the riverfront mix.
"I think it shows the success you can build upon in taking probably what was one of the low-end areas of downtown and turning it probably into one of the highest ends," Schatz said.
The atmosphere created a booming business for apartment owners in a still developing downtown.
DECI said downtown demographics are a mix of young professionals, older workers, empty nesters, and even retirees who enjoy a break from yard work and household maintenance.