Downtown Digs for Seniors

five-story downtown apartment would include bodega-style grocery

Tom Giffey

LOOKING UP IN DOWNTOWN. JCap Real Estate wants to build Wilson Place, a five-story senior apartment complex, on Farwell Street in downtown Eau Claire.
LOOKING UP IN DOWNTOWN. JCap Real Estate wants to build Wilson Place, a five-story senior apartment complex, on Farwell Street in downtown Eau Claire.

Work could begin as early as next month on a mixed-use development in downtown Eau Claire that would include 120 living units aimed at senior citizens as well as a ground-floor grocery store and deli. The five-story, 146,000-square-foot Wilson Square complex would include a mixture of independent living, assistant living, and memory care apartments, said Alex Padrnos, director of construction and development for Jcap Real Estate.

“Seniors like to be able to walk to the shops and restaurants down here. Especially with the arts center, that’ll be a huge hit.” – Alex Padrnos, JCap Real Estate

Padrnos said there’s a “massive demand” for senior housing in the Chippewa Valley, and waiting lists are common at other housing developments aimed at older residents. Likewise, downtown Eau Claire has become an increasingly popular residential area in recent years as retail, commercial, and entertainment options have flourished.

“Seniors like to be able to walk to the shops and restaurants down here,” Padrnos said of the downtown. “Especially with the arts center, that’ll be a huge hit.”

Current plans for Wilson Square include 68 one-bedroom apartments, 32 two-bedroom apartments, eight studio apartments, and 12 memory-care units on the first floor. The ground floor would also include dining and fitness areas for residents, as well as offices, a salon, a community room, and a 4,600-square-foot grocery space. Padrnos said the latter business will be a bodega-style store featuring grab-and-go deli items such as sandwiches, soups, and salads. The store would be on the northeast side of the building, facing the intersection of Farwell and Seaver streets, across the street from the Leader-Telegram.

The project will also include 75 stalls of underground parking and 40-street level parking spots.

The complex would encompass nearly an entire city block – bordered by South Farwell, Emery, South Barstow, and Seaver streets – across from Wilson Park (hence the name). Two houses and three commercial buildings – including the former Unemployment Insurance Hearing Office, 715 S. Barstow St. – will be demolished as part of the project. The only building that will remain on the block is 705 S. Barstow St., which houses the Prajna pilates and yoga studio.

The first reading of an ordinance to rezone the property and approve a general development site plan was on the Eau Claire City Council agenda for Tuesday, Jan. 8. The matter will also go to the city Plan Commission on Jan. 13, then back to the council for final approval Jan. 22. If all goes as planned, construction on Wilson Square could begin in February, with completion slated for the spring of 2020.

Wilson Square is just one of several downtown residential projects coming in the near future. A few blocks away, Pablo Properties, Commonweal Development, and Market & Johnson and converting the former Syverson Lutheran Home, 816 Porter Ave., into 47 upscale apartments. Pablo also intends to remodel the U.S. Bank Building, 131 S. Barstow St., to add apartments. Meanwhile, the city granted approval in December to allow multi-family residences in Building 17 of Banbury Place, which is currently a warehouse.

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