Downtown Development

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A new downtown development planned for Eau Claire got a nod from a city committee Tuesday.

It approved, the plan will give the developers more than $1 million to start bringing cash into the area. But, there are a few more hoops to jump through before construction could start.

We stopped by a couple restaurant/bars directly across the street from where some of the first buildings could go up. One owner tells us he'll start benefiting as soon as building begins.

It's a project, business owners say is a longtime coming...

"We've been waiting,” says Linda Mogensen, manager of Stella Blues. “It's been ‘somethings supposed to go in there’ and it's shot out the window."

"I'll see improvements as soon as they start construction because I do a pretty good lunch crowd and hopefully all the workers will come in here," says Dave Ottosen, owner of Wigwam Tavern

Tuesday, the Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority approved a plan that would create this:

"The two block area will include retail, office and be very heavy on residential,” says Economic Development Administrator Mike Schatz. “It'll include 80 units of apartments."

Ottosen is all for those plans.

"Nowadays people drink where they live—close to home,” Ottosen says. “So, if they put up condos across the street. If they're going to go out, chances are they'll come here."

Mogensen says the development can only spice up business at the Cajun restaurant she manages.

"I think it'll improve it immensely,” she says. “They'll be a lot more competition, more traffic"

But when will we start to see improvements?

“If things go as we hope, we hope the builder could start construction in early summer, maybe with some of the buildings opening toward late fall."

Schatz says the plan approved today is a "pay as you go plan." That means Minneapolis Developer Michael Lander and his partner, Geoff Moeding of Eau Claire get incentives to develop faster. They will also share in profits once the development starts pulling in tax dollars.

Schatz says the city council still has to give it a green light. That could happen as early as next week.