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Facilities projects to move forward following State Building Commission approvals

| Julie Poquette

Several University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire-related facilities projects will move forward following approval of three requests by the Wisconsin State Building Commission at its Aug. 10 meeting.

The commission’s actions included the following:

  • approval of $15 million in state funding for the construction of the Confluence Arts Center in downtown Eau Claire;
  • approval of the lease to Blugold Real Estate Foundation Inc., on behalf of UW-Eau Claire, of a student apartment complex at Haymarket Landing in downtown Eau Claire; and
  • approval of the design report for redevelopment of Garfield Avenue where it runs through the UW-Eau Claire campus, and the grant of authority to construct the project.

“This is a very good day for UW-Eau Claire and for our community,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. “We have been working together with community partners for a long time on the Confluence Arts Center and Haymarket Landing, and it’s exciting to see them both coming to life and to know that our students and the residents of our region will soon be realizing the many benefits that will result. Similarly, the Garfield Avenue project, while including much-needed utilities upgrades and generating great savings in energy costs, also will create a wonderful new gathering space along the river that both our students and community members can enjoy.”

Confluence Arts Center

The state funding for the construction of the three-theater Confluence Arts Center was the final regulatory approval needed for the project to proceed. Other funding for the facility, a public-private collaboration between UW-Eau Claire and the greater Eau Claire community, includes $5 million from the city of Eau Claire; $3.5 million from Eau Claire County; $3 million in new market tax credits; $16 million in philanthropic donations; and another $2.5 million in a combination of donations and construction loans. Just over $14 million in donations has been raised so far, with fundraising still in progress.

The arts center will be used by UW-Eau Claire performing arts students and faculty as well as the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, community arts organizations and Visit Eau Claire. Read more about the design of the arts center. Construction of the Confluence Arts Center will begin in October.

Haymarket Landing

The approved lease of approximately 154,372 square feet at Haymarket Landing makes way for up to 410 UW-Eau Claire students to be housed at the downtown location starting this academic year.

The new student apartments at Haymarket Landing help UW-Eau Claire meet a goal in its campus facilities master plan. The plan calls for partnering with the private and/or non-profit sector to provide non-first-year student housing at an off-campus site in close proximity to the university.

Haymarket Landing is the mixed-use building that is an integral part of the Confluence Project, which also includes the Confluence Arts Center and the Haymarket Plaza, a public gathering space. Haymarket Landing includes retail and commercial space on the first floor, a 119-apartment complex for students on five floors and underground parking. The building was developed by Haymarket Concepts LLC on behalf of the Blugold Real Estate Foundation Inc. Plans call for the Blugold Real Estate Foundation to provide all basic maintenance of the building and for UW-Eau Claire to provide student services such as resident assistants.

Garfield Avenue redevelopment

The $12.4 million Garfield Avenue redevelopment project was enumerated in the 2013-15 state budget due to the critical condition of utilities that run through the Garfield Avenue corridor, including sanitary sewer lines that run adjacent to the Chippewa River. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2017 and be completed by fall 2018.

The project will reconstruct Garfield Avenue where it runs through the UW-Eau Claire campus from the intersection of Park and Garfield avenues to the base of the bluff at the Putnam parking lot. The project includes subsurface utility improvements and surface improvements along Garfield and Roosevelt avenues.

Utility improvements will include new steam and condensate piping and box conduit, sanitary sewer, water main, storm sewer and lighting. In addition, surface improvements along Garfield Avenue will include replacing the vehicle roadway with a primarily pedestrian corridor that accommodates bicycles, service vehicles and emergency vehicles. Additionally, the existing ramp and stairs from the pedestrian bridge over the Chippewa River will be replaced with an ADA-accessible sidewalk. Read more about the Garfield Avenue project.

In a statement on his website, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker commented on the positive impact for UW-Eau Claire students of the projects approved by the State Building Commission.

“This investment helps to make the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire even better for our student population by addressing the student housing shortage and making the campus more accessible with street improvements for those with disabilities,” Walker said. “These projects, coupled with the improvements slated for the performing arts center, will make the area even more attractive for students looking to further their education.”

Photo cutline: The new Haymarket Landing in downtown Eau Claire will house up to 410 UW-Eau Claire students beginning in the fall of 2016.