E.C. City Council votes to approve key parts of Confluence Project

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

Eau Claire, Wis. (WEAU) -- "I think we did the right thing by moving the project forward," said Kerry Kincaid, the Eau Claire City Council President.

All 11 Eau Claire City Council members gave the nod Tuesday to bring the $88 million Confluence Project one step closer to reality.

"The land use piece is an important piece to start working the details out," Kincaid added.

Kincaid says she was happy it passed unanimously by the council. One measure rezones the area near the Confluence Project site to allow for apartments on commercial land. The other is a general development plan, giving a rough idea of what the site would look like.

"Now it gives us a footprint and now we can get specific with our designs and input," said Ben Richgruber, the Executive Director of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council.

That is one of the next steps now, creating a more detailed plan.

"We want to make sure we get ample input from all the arts groups locally, what do they need in this facility and what do they want in this facility," he added.

But not everyone is supportive of the vote, including Howie Prince, who worries about future costs.

"I feel like something of this magnitude should probably be put on a referendum," Prince said.

Kincaid says she has not heard that concern yet but says they are fielding feedback all the time.

"There are thousands of referenda going on as we discuss the proposal with citizens and we go to meetings, take phone calls, and talk to them constantly about it," Kincaid said.

And even though Tuesday is a big step, it is one of many to come from a lot of different directions.

"There are a lot of steps along the way so we appreciate the support of the council as we move this forward," Richgruber said.

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EAU CLAIRE Wis., (WEAU) - The planned Confluence project that would drastically change the landscape of downtown Eau Claire went up for another vote in front of City Council Tuesday afternoon.

Council unanimously approved the early plans as well as a rezoning request, all of which has been discussed at prior meetings.

Still in its early stages, the nearly $90 million dollar project has both supporters and detractors.

In October, the UW System Board of Regents unanimously voted to support the Confluence Project.

The UW-System's share of the project is $55,000,000. It would bring an arts center, retail shopping area, and student housing to downtown.

RCU is donating $1 million to the project.

The Eau Claire Historic Preservation Foundation has been outspoken against the plan.

We're just here to look out for the history of Eau Claire and the buildings that are associated with it," said Janice Wnukowski in a previous interview with WEAU 13 News. Wnukowski is with the Eau Claire Historic Preservation Foundation.


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