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Housing development proposed for vacant riverfront lot

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 8:54 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A developer has come forward with a proposal that would invest $17 million into mixed use housing on the city’s north side.

City Council Member Andrew Werthmann calls a plot of excess land at the intersection of Birch Street and Galloway Street, prime real estate.

After five years on the market, the Eau Claire City Council will vote Tuesday to approve the sale of the valuable land to Rykey Properties, llc.

“To see a $17 million project coming in right when we’re trying to rebuild from COVID, this is the kind of investments in our community that we really want to see more of,” Werthmann says.

He says the investment in the piece of excess land would help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This has been considered a prime piece of land for development especially because it is between the two communities and so we’re excited to finally see this sale come forward to the council.”

While the details of the plan are not yet fully developed, it would provide several various housing options.

“A few 14, and then ‚maybe a 20 unit apartment,” Werthmann says. “There’s also duplexes and then single family units as well so it’s actually a really good mix of housing opportunities.”

Deputy City Engineer Leah Ness says the land, which has sat vacant for about five years, has been highly sought after by developers.

“There’s been several proposals that have been brought forward to the city that we’ve worked with developers on and this is the first one that seems to make sense with the developer,” she says.

The proposed plan also includes a walking and biking trail that would run through the woods along the riverbank, but Werthmann says he does have some concerns about that trail.

“A key part of this as a trail along the Chippewa River,” he says. “That’s spelled out in this agreement that we expect the developer to include and build a mixed use bicycle trail and walking trail along the river. I don’t think I would support something that would take out all of the trees along the riverbank in order to put a trail there.”

Ness says the city has addressed those concerns .

“It would impact the grading as minimal as possible to complete that trail through the property so it wouldn’t be a full clear cut of the banks.”

Overall, Werthmann and Ness say they are excited to see development moving forward.

If the $400,000 sale is approved, city engineers would work with the developer to finalize the site plans in the coming months and then it would move forward to get approval from the city plan commission.

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