city hall eau claire

Eau Claire City Hall

A former downtown homeless shelter building will be converted into upscale apartments, based on plans submitted to the city.

Sages Prosper Management envisions turning the former Hope Gospel Mission, 8 S. Farwell St., into furnished apartments. The developer intends to have some units be short-term stay apartments for less than 30 days, according to a report written by the city’s community development staff.

For the building’s conversion, Sages does need a permit to allow ground-floor residences in an area zoned as a commercial business district. The Plan Commission will hold a public hearing during Monday night’s meeting and then vote on issuing that permit.

Sages’ proposal shows the building’s interior converted into a dozen apartments — mostly one-bedroom units but a couple have two bedrooms. However, the staff report notes the developer does want the flexibility to create up to two more units in the building’s lower level.

Each unit will include a bathroom and kitchenette, plus access to shared lounge areas and a patio.

Sages also is working with the city to allow a recreational trail between the building and the bank of the Eau Claire River.

The permit application gives a general timeline of the project showing renovation will last through most of 2019 with apartments available late this year or in early 2020.

Hope Gospel Mission moved its short-term and long-term programs for men out of the downtown building last month and into a new facility on Eau Claire’s west side.

Renovation of 8 S. Farwell St.’s interior will include exposing timber beams, brick and other architectural aspects of the building’s past. Included in Sages’ application is a picture of the 8 S. Farwell St. building from almost 100 years ago when it was home to the Stacy Fruit Co.

Sages has experience renovating older buildings into upscale apartments, noting that it recently completed a similar restoration in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Another tavern try

Plans to open a tavern in a local landmark building on Menomonie Street are returning for consideration after the project faced delays.

James and Christine Rolbiecki are seeking the Plan Commission’s approval to turn a former lumber company office at 1004 Menomonie St. into a bar with limited food service.

The Rolbieckis previously got a permit to create a restaurant there in late 2015. But when the small kitchen made it unlikely the business could primarily serve food, the couple got another permit in August 2016 to scale back plans to be a tavern.

Since work on the tavern didn’t progress in a year after that previous permit was issued, a new one is needed.

Built in 1905, it had been the offices of the Kaiser Lumber Co. and is one of the remaining buildings in Eau Claire that represents the city’s lumber-boom era. In more recent years it has been used as rental housing, but currently sits vacant.

The Historic Randall Park Neighborhood Association sent a letter in support of the Rolbieckis because their project will keep part of Eau Claire’s history intact.

The building is close to the city’s Hobbs Ice Center and next to a large swath of property that will be the future home to a facility that will host major events including UW-Eau Claire hockey and basketball games and recreation facilities for multiple users.

The organization planning the future Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex on Menomonie Street — a joint project of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Eau Claire YMCA and Mayo Clinic Health System — wrote in opposition to the tavern.

“We would ask you to press pause on this application until there is a more comprehensive city development plan for that area that takes a more holistic view,” Kimera Way, president of the organization and executive director of the university foundation, stated in the letter.

Hotel planned

A second hotel is planned next to the Fairfield Inn on Eau Claire’s northeast side, just off the North Crossing.

A 107-room Marriott Residence Inn is proposed to be built on 8 acres of vacant land owned by local developer Neil Haselwander, according to plans submitted to the city.

Building designs show the hotel will also include an indoor pool, meeting room and fitness center.

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