Downtown News

« Back to news

Downtown Master Plan Includes Many Exciting Ideas

Posted May 3rd, 2012

  • Boutique hotel idea along the Chippewa River
  • "Promenade" concept looked at for Grand Avenue

There could be a boutique hotel along the river.  You may be able to sit and relax on the grass in the 'promenade' on Grand Avenue.   Redevelopment may take place at the river's confluence on the opposite side of Phoenix Park.  Performers may set up in an entertainment area by the downtown footbridge.

All are ideas set forth the by a design committee and presented to about 70 people today, as a Downtown Master Plan is unveiled.  The plan pertains to the S. Barstow Street area, in which the boundaries in the plan cover the Eau Claire River to the north, Lake Street to the South, Dewey Street to the east, and the Chippewa River to the West.  The plan was commissioned by DECI and the South Barstow Business Improvement District and took about a year to complete.

Phil Johnson of Ayres Associates, Kristen Fish, Deborah Ersland, and Mike Morissey of Redevelopment Resources, and Garret Perry of Design Studio, explained the plans, saying they create excitement for Eau Claire.

Four sites were mainly looked at: the corner parking lot area on Graham Avenue across from Playmakers Grill, the District Administration Building, the Wood Motors parking lot off Farwell Street, and the Graham Avenue parking ramp. 

Designers say a key redevelopment site is what they call the Haymarket lot, off of Graham Avenue.  They say development there "shoud be supported and is important in repositioning the downtown and nurturing other development nearby."  Ideas for the area inlcude a public space along the river and the potential for a pedestrian/bike bridge to Phoenix Park.

The plan offers many opportunities for new housing.  It's also suggested that the District Administration Building can be transformed into apartments.

To address parking issues downtown, designers suggest that the City Council would consider free parking every workday after 5 p.m. and weekends, and have better signage that directs drivers to public parking areas.

Sketches show a boutique hotel along the Chippewa River, with a sloped bank that creates access to the river near the footbridge on Grand Avenue. Another conceptual idea shows a 'promenade' area on Grand Avenue, in which part of the street-from the footbridge to the parking lot across from the Children's Museum of Eau Claire- is a pedestrian plaza.  It includes a covered performance space with a retail and entertainment complex.

We'll post the plan in its entirety when it becomes available.