Welcoming Sight

new visitors center opens in downtown CF

Caleb Gerdes

A BETTER CENTER. If you find yourself heading into downtown Chippewa Falls on Bridge Street, you’ll notice something new to welcome you: the Chamber of Commerce’s new Visitors Center.
A BETTER CENTER. If you find yourself heading into downtown Chippewa Falls on Bridge Street, you’ll notice something new to welcome you: the Chamber of Commerce’s new Visitors Center.

The brand-new Visitors Center at 1 N. Bridge St. in Chippewa Falls has had its doors open for only a short while and the beautifully designed building still has that just-moved-in-smell – a smell of hope, happiness, and prosperity.

The Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce began the process of creating a new space as part of the Chippewa Falls Downtown Riverfront Plan, an expansive community initiative set to bolster the downtown area with a beautiful riverfront park. “Since 2007, the city has been working on the redevelopment of the downtown riverfront area,” said Mayor Greg Hoffman. “I see the Chamber and Visitors Center relocation as the next step in a process that will further enhance the new entrance into the downtown. The council and the community are excited to see this happen.”

“I see the Chamber and Visitors Center relocation as the next step in a process that will further enhance the new entrance into the downtown.”  – Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman

The new 5,000-square-foot Visitors Center – which is located kitty-corner from its predecessor – was designed by CBS Squared and built by Heartland Contractors. The welcoming building, with its beautiful wall fountain and simple elegance, boasts multiple meeting spaces for Chamber members and will hold a plethora of information for the 15,000 visitors who are expected to pass through the center in the coming year.

The benefits of the new center are multifaceted for visitors and residents alike. Michelle Farrow, membership coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, commented on how exciting the Chippewa Falls area can be anytime of the year. “I know that the citizens of Chippewa Falls are very proud of their community and they are happy to see the changes in the downtown,” Farrow said. The staff plans to continually to promote the coming season as well as the current one, enticing visitors to return after their initial visit. Not only will visitors see the various offerings of Chippewa Falls when they use the Visitors Center, but so will any resident who is looking for something to do.

About two years ago, the Chamber began the journey that led to its new building. As then-Chamber Board Chairman Bill Mercer said at the time, “The Chamber is excited about the opportunity to be part of the revitalization of the downtown riverfront. Working with the city of Chippewa Falls has allowed us to make this project happen.” The chamber sold its old building to the city as part of the riverfront plan and raised the extra $300,000 it would need to complete construction. Over 100 local businesses made donations, and the Chamber was able to meet its goal in just six months. Ground was broken in June, and the chamber moved into its new offices a few weeks ago.

The old building is expected to be demolished soon as the city begins work to create a new riverside park, which will eventually include features such as an amphitheater, trails, a river overlook, and a splash pad. In addition, Bridge Street itself boast a new look, having been rebuilt last year, and demolition is expected to start this month on the vacant Plaza Building, 100 N. Bridge St., to make way for new development.

There is a lot of excitement building up around the redevelopment of the city’s downtown, and the new Visitors Center is one more cornerstone laid for the future of Chippewa Falls.

Chippewa Falls Visitors Center • 1 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm • (715) 723-0331 or (888) 723-0024 • visitchippewafallswi.com

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