River Prairie design plans come together - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

River Prairie design plans come together

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Altoona (WQOW)- An empty lot in Altoona's River Prairie is providing no destination, but some say it could soon become the destination of the Chippewa Valley.

On Thursday Altoona City Council met with architects to finalize designs for a new event center, billed as a high end space for things like weddings, parties, and conferences.  The complex is expected to cost around $2 million.

"It's going to kind of create a central hub, or a gathering space for all the other amenities the park has to offer.  It's definitely going to be that focal point," said Jamey Bowe with River Valley Architects, the company designing the event center.

The city requested the event center to look consistent with the rest of River Prairie.  

"We want it to looks as though it's a River Prairie style with some over hangs, brick, the nice open features on the patio.  So we kind of want it to be the same look throughout the park," said Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt.  "The whole intent is to have a main focal point down in River Prairie to where groups of people can come down and enjoy the park."

The venue can hold 250 people.  The city said weddings are the main inspiration for how the building was designed, and will specifically cater to nuptial needs.

"We want to create sort of a wow factor there. so brides-to-be can visit the space and say, yes.  This is where I want to have my special day, where I want to tie the knot," Bowe said.

The event center will also be home to the city's parks department and will provide public restrooms for the adjoining River Prairie park, all day every day.

"All it does is bring more people to Altoona.  So anything that we can do to generate traffic this way, just helps everybody," Pratt said.

Thursday's meeting was primarily an informational workshop, an opportunity for council members and designers to get ducks in a row.  The council said the designs will have to be approved before moving forward, which they hope to have done in the next month.

The city said they hope to start building the event center some time this fall in order to have it completed by the end of next year.

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