Eau Claire (WQOW) -- On Wednesday, News 18 reported on the $500,000 grant the Sonnentag Complex Project was set to receive from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. On Thursday, officials behind the project revealed how that money will be spent.
The WEDC grant, and other recent donations, will pay for the demolition of the buildings currently standing on the site along Menomonie Street. Officials expect deconstruction to begin this fall and hope to begin building by the spring of 2018.
A proposed budget for the project still hasn't been set and the University hasn't kicked off an official fundraising campaign, but UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt told News 18 he's confident the community will show its support once work begins.
"To have the grants, between this and the EPA grants that we were awarded a short time ago, will help the progress begin," Schmidt said. "The difficult work of taking down buildings and cleaning the site, that's a difficult ask to make to philanthropic donors."
Eau Claire was one of just four communities in the state to receive the grant from the WEDC. Officials there said they're excited to be working directly with a rapidly growing region like the Chippewa Valley.
"The project will truly transform what is now an under-utilized section of riverfront property," WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan said, "into a multi-purpose development that will meet the wellness, the educational and the social needs of not just Eau Claire, but the entire region for generations to come."
The first new building to go up on Menomonie Street will be the University's Big River Education Center. Officials said it will include a climbing wall, a small deli-style restaurant and apartments for students. They're hoping the building is complete and open to students by August 2019.