Friday, October 19, 2018

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Plan Commission approves arts center site plan

Plan Commission gives OK to Confluence element; City Council to weigh in 

  • con-Confluence-Arts-1-021016-1

    Designs for the downtown Confluence Project arts center unveiled last week included a pedestrian bridge, seen on the low left of this image, that would cross the Eau Claire River. The new bridge has been seen in multiple versions of project designs, but the city has not yet budgeted to build it.

    Contributed image

  • Kathy-Mitchell

One more hurdle was cleared for the Confluence Project’s community performing arts center Monday night when its site plan was unanimously approved by the city’s Plan Commission.

“This is it,” commission and Eau Claire City Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell said. “After four years of working hard we have a site plan for a community arts facility.”

The unanimous vote also allows for the rezoning of a 33-foot area on the north side of the performing arts center that will serve as a public plaza for the main entrance, and for encroachments on Gibson Street and Graham Avenue.

The encroachments would be for a loading dock and trash enclosures on Gibson Street and building overhangs on Graham Avenue, said Darryl Tufte, Eau Claire’s director of community development.

As part of a development agreement, the city will be responsible for completing an area west of the performing arts center along the Chippewa River that will include a riverfront trail, retaining wall, railings and lighting, Tufte said.

The site plan was previously approved by the city’s Waterways and Parks Commission.

The $45 million structure will be built next to an existing mixed-use building at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers downtown.

The site plan still needs City Council approval.

The three-story building will include a 1,200-seat main theater. 

At its highest, the building will be 86 feet tall — about the same height as The Lismore hotel — to accommodate rigging, backdrops and other backstage equipment that will be hoisted far above the center’s main stage.

The building will be 130,000 square feet. The 80-by-40-foot stage is about double the size of The State Theatre’s stage, one of the Eau Claire facilities the Confluence is intended to replace.

A second theater has 400 seats and is intended to be flexible to accommodate many different types of performances.

Construction is slated to begin in late summer and take more than 1½ years with an opening in 2018.

UW-EC plan OK’d

The Plan Commission on Monday also unanimously approved a plan by UW-Eau Claire to redevelop Garfield Avenue along the bank of the Chippewa River to improve public access to Putnam Park on the project’s west end.

The $12.4 million project officials revealed last month includes transforming the street that traverses the university’s lower campus into a gathering spot that includes an amphitheater, scenic overlooks and an outdoor classroom and paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The plan still needs to be approved by the City Council, UW System Board of Regents and the State Building Commission.

Contact: 715-833-9207,

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