EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Plans to tear down a historic Eau Claire building as part of the Confluence Project have a city committee hoping to hear more from the public.
The building on Barstow Street would be torn down if the project moves forward, but naming it a landmark could give the public more opportunities to share thoughts on what should be done.
John Hagenbart, who owns an air and floor cleaning distribution center on Eau Claire street says he's been happy there for the past seventeen years. But construction of the proposed confluence project would push him out.
“It works good for us downtown here because it's convenient and the traffic flows good,” Hagenbart said.
“We don't know exactly when we're going to move, secondly, we've got to find another location and load everything up and move.”
Around the corner, an empty historic building that would also be torn down has become the focus of an ongoing debate. The city Landmarks Commission voted Tuesday to have a public hearing, allowing people to give input on what should happen with the building. It's an effort to name the former Kline’s department store a local landmark.
“If the Landmarks Commission doesn't look to do that, the people of Eau Claire don't have a voice, and I think we need those people to have a voice,” Landmarks Commission member and city councilman Dave Strobel said.
Commonweal Development, who would put the project in place, said the efforts likely won't make a difference.
“I don't think the city council would allow a building be designated as a local landmark without consent of the owner. There's a bunch of problems with that. One of which is that the owner could take legal action against the city,” Commonweal President Stuart Schaefer said.
Both Strobel and Schaefer said Tuesday’s vote will likely not delay the project.
“City council can overrule the landmarks commission, so if those people who are answerable to the public decide to overrule the landmark's commission, then they can do that, that's their right,” Strobel said.
Scheafer said the plan can move forward with support from the city, county, state and university.