Former Eau Claire parks and rec office to become apartment building

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A vacant building that used to house the Eau Claire’s Parks and Recreation Department has plans to become a 22-unit apartment complex.

Across the street from Shawn Smets’ home, a three-story building sitting empty for the past four years, on First and Oxford Avenues in Eau Claire.

“I definitely was curious. It was for sale, sold, then for sale again, so was wondering what was going on with the building,” Smets said.

“The building was built around 1891, by a trunk manufacturing company. They manufactured trunks and leather goods and they owned the building til about the '20s and '30s,” Eau Claire city finance director Rebecca Noland said.

She said the building was used by the national biscuit company and later, the Eau Claire vocational college, which became the Chippewa Valley Technical College who had it until 1967. The city parks and recreation department took over, staying there until 2009.

“We've had the building for sale for over four years. We've been negotiating with people who have been interested in primarily converting it into low to moderate income, multifamily housing. And the company who has purchased the properties is called MetroPlains. They specialize in renovating historic buildings,” Noland said.

“It's an exciting opportunity for us to take a building that is vacant and make it an asset to the community of Eau Claire,” Leah Skoy, assistant project manager for MetroPlains said.

The building sold for $385,000. The Minneapolis company said it will take over the building May 1, and will begin construction next fall, expecting to finish in the fall of 2015.

“There's a very much of a need for low to moderate income housing, in the city especially, in the heart of the city,” Noland said.

“We're in a beautiful spot here by the river and I’m hoping for the best that they'll be good neighbors and expect that it will be,” Smets said.

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