Persistent demand for more housing in downtown Eau Claire is prompting plans to change buildings long home to businesses into apartments.
Two developers are seeking decisions from the city’s Plan Commission on Monday night that would allow them to eventually change warehouse and office space into multifamily residential buildings.
“With the residential development occurring downtown we are looking to the future and feasibility of converting Building 17 into a multi-use building consisting of a combination of apartments, office and warehouse spaces,” officials from Banbury Place wrote to the city.
Though there are no firm plans or time line for remodeling part of that six-story warehouse building at 800 Wisconsin St., the letter notes that Banbury Place wants the flexibility to be able to do it in the future.
To do that, the city would need to rezone the property and allow amendments to the 1993 development plan that Banbury used to transform the shuttered Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. plant into the mix of businesses it is today. The sprawling complex is now home to some industrial companies, numerous small businesses, art studios, offices, a day care and the International Harvester Apartment Homes.
“Over the last 26 years the development of Banbury Place has followed that original general development plan as originally approved,” the letter stated. “Today, however, we are asking for a slight amendment to that plan.”
Building 17, which is at the far east end of the complex, was initially planned for office and warehouse space and has so far just been used as a warehouse.
Pablo Properties, a local group that’s been on a spree of downtown Eau Claire redevelopment projects, intends to turn part of the six-story U.S. Bank building, 131 S. Barstow St., into apartments.
The bank would remain a tenant on the ground floor of the building, but upper floors currently rented as offices would be turned into 17 apartments. The Plan Commission will consider Pablo’s site plan, which shows six one-bedroom units, 10 two-bedroom units and one penthouse. And with the expectation the bank will relocate in the future, Pablo’s plans also show that ground-floor space would be turned into a restaurant.
The landmark building’s art deco architecture would remain intact, but Pablo Properties does intend to add windows to the northwest side of the building where there currently are none.
Pablo Properties is known for revamping a rundown downtown hotel into The Lismore Hotel, a rehabilitation of row houses on West Grand Avenue into condominiums and plans to turn a defunct nursing home building into upscale apartments.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the Plan Commission will consider:
• Making a recommendation to rezone a former Eau Claire fire station at 559 N. Hastings Way so Valley Media Works, which has an agreement to buy the building, can turn it into their new production studios and offices.
• An easement proposed by the developer of Highclere Estates, which would allow a future recreational trail to connect the housing subdivision to existing trails behind Northstar Middle School.