Vacant bank and pizzeria buildings on Water Street would be replaced with new storefronts and apartments planned by Eau Claire developer John Mogensen.
During its Monday night meeting, the city Plan Commission will review Mogensen’s plans to redevelop a couple of lots on Water Street.
The first project would demolish a drive-thru bank building at 328 Water St. that has been empty since BMO Harris relocated in 2017 to another building a block away.
In its place would be a two-story building with ground-floor commercial space for lease and six apartments with four bedrooms each.
Plans for the building show one of the two storefronts would have a drive-thru lane next to it. Based on drawings of the site, cars would use the alley behind the building to approach a drive-up window and then exit onto Water Street.
To provide parking for the building’s tenants, Mogensen is proposing to raze the neighboring house he owns at 325 Chippewa St. to create a 25-stall parking lot.
Mogensen is asking the Plan Commission to approve the site plan and numerous permits needed for the project to proceed.
However, another Water Street businessman says the city should block the plans.
Dave Kositzke, who owns Stave & Hoop Liquor Store, 342 Water St., contends that the drive thru would be unsafe and wouldn’t fit with other businesses on the street. He also argues against replacing homes on Chippewa Street with extra parking for Water Street businesses, as it would conflict with housing. Kositzke wrote that a duplex he owns next to another Mogensen parking lot has had problems including vehicle lights shining into bedrooms and snow that gets plowed onto neighboring yards.
The Water Street Commercial District Plan does note insufficient off-street parking in the Water Street area and suggests that lots on Chippewa Street should be considered to help address that shortage.
The other project proposed by Mogensen would replace the defunct Guppy’s Pizza, 421 Water St.
Vacant since the pizzeria closed in 2017, the building currently there dates back to 1841 and is located between nightclub Shenanigans and a two-story building Mogensen owns with storefronts on the first floor and apartments above.
The new two-story building would have ground-floor commercial space for lease and the upper level would have two four-bedroom apartments.
Whether there will be enough parking will be up for debate among the commission.
As planned, there are only five parking stalls on the premises and city standards specify there should be a dozen.
The Plan Commission could waive the parking requirement as there are about 339 public parking spaces along curbs and in city lots between the 200 through 500 blocks of Water Street, according to a city staff memo.
However, the memo also noted that a recent visit to those lots found they were already nearly full from current businesses and apartments in the area.