EAU CLAIRE — A 61-year-old hotel on Eau Claire’s southwest side is slated to be converted into an apartment building.
Plans filed with the city show The Campus View Inn & Suites, 809 W. Clairemont Ave., would be transformed from a 120-room hotel into an 87-unit apartment building.
Architect Jamey Bowe of River Valley Architects wrote to the city that the proposed renovation is seen as a way to help address demand for smaller, affordable apartments in Eau Claire.
“With the redevelopment and conversion of the hotel, we will be able to offer a more affordable housing option than ground up new construction,” Bowe wrote.
Plans show the hotel being reconfigured to create 52 studio apartments, 28 one-bedroom units and seven two-bedroom apartments. An exercise room, lounge and laundry facilities are included for tenants as well.
College students are among potential tenants foreseen for the building, which is near the UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College campuses. The hotel, which up until recently had been an America’s Best Value Inn, served for multiple years as an auxiliary dormitory for university students when on-campus housing was tight.
Following the planned conversion of the hotel, it will be managed by Compass Real Estate Management, a company that already oversees 14 apartment complexes in Eau Claire.
The redevelopment project calls for the demolition of the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools, lobby and two commercial spaces attached to it that are occupied by restaurant Mancino’s and O’Leary’s Pub.
The site of the pools would become courtyards for apartment tenants to use, but the lobby and business spaces would remain vacant at first. Eventually new multi-tenant commercial buildings would go there to take advantage of the prominent location visible from busy Clairemont Avenue, according to the plans.
The city’s Community Development Department reviewed the plans and agreed that with the business sector still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense to have the commercial part of the project follow after the apartments, which help address high demand for housing in Eau Claire.
“Given the current commercial market and future potential redevelopment, flexibility within this general development plan is an important factor for commercial space,” stated a city staff memo.
To allow the project to proceed, Compass Real Estate Management is requesting to rezone the land. The city’s Plan Commission will hold a hearing and vote on rezoning the property at its 7 p.m. meeting today(Monday). One week later the City Council will hold a public hearing on the project before making the deciding vote during its 4 p.m. meeting on July 27 on the rezoning request.
Should the city grant approvals to the project, renovations would begin this year and finish in fall 2022.
Also on the Plan Commission’s agenda today(Monday):
• A new Burger King slated for Eau Claire’s southwest side is seeking site plan approval. The 3,290-square-foot fast food restaurant is to be built on vacant land near the intersection of Highway 37 and Craig Road. That land had previously been where the Green Mill Restaurant and Clarion Hotel stood until they were demolished in 2019, clearing the way for the newly opened Holiday Inn Express & Suites and future commercial buildings.
• Home improvement retailer Menards is planning to develop 12 acres of vacant land it owns near its corporate headquarters into a small neighborhood of twin homes. The company’s plans are to create lots for 17 twin homes — two dwellings in each — on the land along Campus Road on the south side of Highway 312, next to Mill Run Golf Course.
• Farther to the west, Menards has an 18.6-acre vacant parcel along the west side of North Town Hall Road that it is looking to divide into 28 lots for single-family homes. This property is next to a larger parcel that Menards received the city’s approval earlier this year to turn into residential subdivision.
• Held Homes is seeking approval of its site plan for a 38-unit apartment building it has slated for vacant land at 3501 Gateway Drive, which is close to Target.
• Shawtown is the next Eau Claire neighborhood that the city’s Planning Division intends to aid through the creation of a neighborhood plan. Brad Candell, president of the Shawtown Neighborhood Association, wrote to the city about the need for a plan to address traffic, dangerous intersections, parks and recreation amenities, deteriorating roads and new development anticipated in the area.