Redevelopment Authority to continue negotiations on vacant building

Developer John Mogensen will have to keep negotiating with Eau Claire's Redevelopment Authority before he can buy a vacant building downtown.

The RDA came to that decision this morning after hearing Mogensen's concerns with a possible deal for 2 South Barstow.

Twice a day, Brock Umbaugh walks by 2 South Barstow on his way to and from work downtown.

“As long as it's downtown, and everything else is getting remodeled and re-built, I see no reason why it can't be used,” Umbaugh said. “I mean, they're using all these other old buildings."

Now Mogensen, who owns many other buildings on the block, wants to buy the building for $5.

He would then either spend nearly $800,000 renovating it in two years, or pay the city taxes on $800,000 in assessed value. His proposal calls for retail, an office, or a restaurant on the first floor, depending on whoever rents it out. It shows condos or loft apartments on the second and third floors.

“I think there is a strong interest in the part of the RDA and the city to see that the building is re-used if at all possible,” said City Attorney Stephen Nick. He says he'll keep negotiating with Mogensen on things like a possible parking incentive in a city-owned lot.

“We want to see it put to use and we want to see it put back on the tax roll,” Nick said. He says the building is basically stripped to the studs and support beams, and it will take a lot to renovate it.

Brock says if anyone is up to that task, it's Mogensen.

“He's been told many times here in town that you can't do this or that, but he kept to it and got things done,” Umbaugh said. “He's the best man for the job that I can think of.”

Now the RDA will have to figure out whether his plan is the best for the job too.

The RDA's next meeting is scheduled for mid-September.

Mogensen declined to comment on-camera after today's meeting.

Nick says the only other step for Mogensen if the Redevelopment Authority agrees to sell him the building would likely be a plan commission review of his site plan. Nick says the city council would not have to approve the deal.

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