Friday, Apr. 30th, 2010
Wednesday, Apr. 28th, 2010

Phoenix Park apartments fill while shopfronts ... not so much

If you’re one of the many people wondering about the new apartments and retail space that’s been a-poppin’ up in the Phoenix Park Neighborhood, there’s at least one thing you can stop wondering about – today the Leader-Telegram reports that the third and newest building (312 Wisconsin St.), set to open this weekend, is chock full of residents with a 0 vacancy. They quote developer Geoff Moeding as saying that, in over 30 years of experience, he’s never had an apartment building 100% leased before it even opened. So, that sounds awesome. People want to live downtown.

Retail space is another matter. At last count, the new  building has only one of its four retail “wells” occupied, and the first building to be constructed (the one right across from the Farmers Market pavilion) still has a large empty space staring blankly out over Madison Street. That space is said to be more or less filled, though the developer is extremely tight-lipped as to what’s going in there.

As for the rest of the commercial storefronts, Moeding told the L-T he’s looking for a fitness center, and the much-talked neighborhood grocery store (an idea many people love while many other people say, “What about this place?”). And there’s one more building left to be constructed in the first phase of the Phoenix Park Neighborhood, with plans for a July groundbreaking.

Comments 5

Tuesday, Apr. 27th, 2010

Hudson is getting so passive

I just read about Passive House in the Woods (via Jeston Green). The house, to be constructed outside of Hudson, Wis., is 1,940 square feet of single-family eco heaven overlooking the St. Croix river valley. I’d never heard the term “Passive House” before, but it basically means “so energy efficient/carbon neutral it could simultaneously blow the minds of every hippie living between now and 1969.” There are many, very tight energy standards to which a builder must adhere. This particular mind-blower has a whole team of designers and builders behind it, and while it was commissioned by a private client, it seems to be marketed as a sort of poster child home for this kind of home building. Some details:

  • House spans two levels and includes a walkout basement. There’s a heat recovery ventilator, and a 600-foot PEX tube loop field to pre-heat and pre-cool the incoming air stream. No boiler or furnace, although there will be in-floor heating mats with local controls that draw about the same amount of energy as two hair dryers.
  • Perhaps a step further than most Passive Houses, this Wisconsin home will be a net positive producer of energy due in part  to a 4.7 kW photovoltaic array.  In addition, a 40 square-foot solar hot water collector will pre-heat water in a storage tank and provide about 85% of all hot water needs. (Again, from Jeston Green)

Yeah, I don’t really understand half of that, but it sure sounds cool. If all goes according to plan, Passive House in the Woods will actually exceed space-conditioning requirements for the Passive House standard by 25%. And Hudson is the perfect locale! What better place to build a passive house than the midwest, where most people are totally passive to begin with? OH CULTURE SNAP! Anyway, completion is scheduled for late Summer 2010.

Comments 6

Monday, Apr. 26th, 2010

Protestin’ in the Valley

Apart from a few exceptions, we don’t see a whole lot of sign-in-hand protesting around these parts. Even on campus. Many people say true protesting is a lost art. Well, it wasn’t lost last Saturday on the group of people protesting in front of Menomonie’s McDonald’s (1515 N. Broadway). About a dozen people gathered to protest the restaurants’ (meaning all American McDonald’s’s) chicken-slaughtering methods. According to protester Katherine Johnson:

  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and its activists ask that the McDonald’s corporation switch their slaughter methods over to a much more effective and humane method called Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAP). This method uses inert gasses to put the chickens to sleep quickly, painlessly, and gently before they are sent to slaughter. This method will not only be good for the chickens but will protect  slaughter house workers as well, as many workers are injured in the process of slaughtering chickens due to chickens still being alive when going into slaughter. (Email or visit for info.)

Questions of gassing chickens aside, I think it’s good to see protesting. Between the jail thing, the chicken thing, the smoking ban thing, and a few other things – it’s good to live in a community where people stand up for ... you know ... things.

Comments 25

Monday: Chicken Talk

Hey, the big chicken talk is tonight. If you feel strongly one way or the other about the much-discussed “Chicken Ordinance,” show up at City Hall (203 S. Farwell Street) tonight at 7pm to speak your mind. From the city:

  • Public comment of a proposed ordinance to create Chapter 6.17, entitled "Chickens" will be included on the Monday, April 26 City Council meeting agenda. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm.
  • The purpose of the ordinance would be to outline conditions under which city residents may safely keep and maintain a limited number of chickens within the City of Eau Claire.
  • Click here to see the draft ordinance. City Council will consider adoption of the proposed ordinance at their Legislative meeting of Tuesday, April 27 at 4:00 pm.

Personally, I’ve written about chickens before, and I'm pro-chicken. Unfortunately, as the ordinance is currently written, most of my neighborhood (the Eastside Hill) would not be zoned correctly to allow them. My house would be in a no-chicken zone.  So even if the ordinance has gone through multiple drafts, perhaps a closer look is still needed.

Comments 2

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