Thursday, Dec. 8th, 2016

LOOK: Chippewa Riverfront Project Takes Shape

The Chippewa Riverfront project. Make it big. Photo: Green Oasis by Greener Grass Systems, Inc.
The Chippewa Riverfront project. Make it big. Photo: Green Oasis by Greener Grass Systems, Inc.

Whoa! Take a look at the progress on the Chippewa Riverfront project in Chippewa Falls. This photo, taken December 1, provides a good look at the full scope of the project and the dramatic changes taking place. The city hopes the new multi-faceted, riverfront venue will inspire community residents and visitors to gather downtown to enjoy a variety of activities.

According to the Chippewa Falls Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry, here's what we can expect ...

It will include a large stage with lighting, ground level and slightly raised seating areas, support facilities, trails, fountains, walkways, fishing areas, picnicking shelters, benches, a winter skating ribbon, and public restrooms. (An additional restroom is currently under construction.) The entire park will offer WiFi access.

• Amphitheater for small gatherings and seating for more than 3,000
• Fishing pier and water access for fishing, boating, wildlife viewing
• Canopy cover and a pergola for sun and shade control
• Pavilion for staging events, shows and concerts with full electrical
• Attractively landscaped downtown entryways and parking areas
• Connections to regional trails
• A skating ribbon
• Bike facilities, Wi-Fi, trailheads, picnic facilities, signage, benches
• Parking for 2,000 within one half of a mile
• Enhanced water features and shoreline restoration

The complete project should be able to accommodate a wide array of events, such as outdoor festivals; farmers and other specialty markets; non-profit fundraisers; concerts; plays; art shows; weddings; social gatherings; reunions; music of all types; water events; tube launches; movies in the park; date and family night programs; and more.

Whew! That's a lot of community engagement. What you see in the photo represents the project's first phase of development. Fundraising for Phase 2 is underway, which will add the amphitheater, the stage/canopy, recreational trails, restrooms, an entry plaza, pavilions, and more. Phase 2 is slated to happen throughout 2017 and 2018.

You can learn more and find the project's huge FAQ document here.

Chippewa Riverfront conceptual art. Make it big.
Chippewa Riverfront conceptual art. Make it big.

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Tuesday, Dec. 6th, 2016

Bon Iver Nominated for 2 Grammys (along with some guy named David Bowie)

Justin Vernon performs with Bon Iver at the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, August 2016.
Justin Vernon performs with Bon Iver at the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, August 2016.

For the outstanding work of 22, A Million, Eau Claire’s own Bon Iver is yet again nominated for a couple Grammys, one for Best Alternative Music Album and another to the band and visual artist Eric Timothy Carlson for Best Recording Packaging.

Bon Iver and Justin Vernon are no stranger to the music industry awards show, as the band was nominated for four and won two – for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album – in 2012 for Bon Iver, Bon Iver. 

In the Best Alternative Music Album category, Bon Iver’s up against the likes of Iggy Pop, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, and the late David Bowie. 

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards show will be held on February 12 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and televised live on CBS.

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We Made a Downloadable Huebsch Site Plan So You Can Daydream

Crews razed the century-old Huebsch Laundry building on November 29.
Crews razed the century-old Huebsch Laundry building on November 29.

In the wake of demolition crews ripping down the old, dilapidated Huebsch Laundry building at the corner of N. Dewey and Galloway Streets, many are wondering exactly what (new owner) JCAP Real Estate has in store for the property – one the nicest parcels of build-able riverfront land to remain in downtown Eau Claire.

People had been daydreaming about remodeling that building for decades but now, with such a clean slate, there's room for bigger dreams. As we reported last week, JCAP is considering a mix of commercial space and condos. They even have an initial site concept detailing three new buildings.

But is that what you'd do? What other ideas do you have? Heck, even Justin Vernon has been sketching/tweeting about the property. If Vernon can dream, why can’t we?

The Volume One World Headquarters sits right across the street, so we're understandably very curious about what will rise from the Huebsch ashes.

What About You? Download a Blank 'Huebsch Property' Site Plan!

Even if you don’t own the land, we’re betting you have your own idea (or twenty*) as to what should happen with one the city’s most interesting development properties. In that spirit, we’ve prepared a handy downloadable PDF showing the former Huebsch site. Print if off and start sketching. Your hard work and vision may have zero effect on the final project, but it’s fun to brainstorm, right?

And hey! If you like what you draw, snap a picture and post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, adding #v1riverfront

*Yes, we know you’d love a French bistro overlooking the river. Any other ideas?

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Friday, Dec. 2nd, 2016

Justin Vernon Has Ideas for Former Huebsch Building Property

Justin Vernon's wishful site plan for former location of the Huebsch Laundry building.
Justin Vernon's wishful site plan for the former location of the Huebsch Laundry building – which he posted to Twitter on Friday. Make huge.

Since the demolition of the infamous Huebsch Laundry building at the corner of Galloway and Dewey in downtown Eau Claire, there's been plenty of buzz about what the heck is gonna replace it. The riverside property is now owned by JCAP Real Estate, who laid out preliminary plans for as many as three mixed-use buildings on the site, which include commercial space and condominiums. 

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has offered up his own vision for the property in a hand-drawn plan posted to Twitter Friday, which urges the owners to “not just do boring condos that do nothing to add to our community.” His plan includes a kitchen commissary, an outdoor stage, an incubator space, greenhouses, and a women’s shelter, amongst other ideas. You can see the Grammy winner's wishful plans above. 

Earlier, Vernon also tweeted, "Please god all mighty don't put a bar and grill in there ... let's make some real culture ! The river !!!!!"

We should point out that Vernon is just spitballing, and has no control over what actually happens to the property. 

 

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Wednesday, Nov. 30th, 2016

Huebsch Building Toppled; Plans Call for Commercial Space, Condos Along Eau Claire River

A demolition crew ripped down the Huebsch building on N. Dewey Street in downtown Eau Claire on November 29. The 20,000-square-foots brick building was building around 1907.
A demolition crew ripped down the former Huebsch building, 101 N. Dewey St., in downtown Eau Claire on Nov. 29. The 20,000-square-foot brick building was built around 1907.

The century-old former Huebsch building – a looming four-level brick structure alongside the Eau Claire River in downtown Eau Claire – was reduced to a pile of rubble Tuesday, but its prime spot at the corner of Dewey and Galloway streets likely won’t be vacant for long.

Even as the (literal) dust settled, the property’s new owners, JCAP Real Estate, were unveiling preliminary plans for as many as three mixed-use buildings on the site. The proposed development – dubbed The 101, after the property’s address – would include commercial space and condominiums, the latter an often sought-after missing element of the booming downtown residential market.

“That location is just second to none, in our opinion,” said Brian Johnson, JCAP president. “Being on the Eau Claire River and downtown, and the zoning allows for some high-density development.”

Initial conceptual site plans for the former Huebsch Building site from JCAP Real Estate. Closer look.
Initial conceptual site plans for the former Huebsch Building site from JCAP Real Estate. Closer look.

The two-acre site can accommodate about 100 condo units, Johnson said, with 30 to 40 of them per four- to six-story building. The structure closest to Dewey Street would feature about 10,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. Johnson said his company is considering several possible tenants, including a brewpub/taproom and a café overlooking the river. The other two potential buildings would be entirely condos, he added.

JCAP owns numerous rental properties in Eau Claire, including downtown, and Johnson said some of the firm’s renters would prefer to buy condominiums downtown, but haven’t had that option. “I don’t think there’s been the right location for a condo development downtown, as well as the available land,” Johnson said. That changed when the Huebsch property went on the market earlier this year.

JCAP closed on the sale a few weeks ago, and crews began preparing the long-vacant building for demolition just before noon Tuesday. The most dramatic part of the job occurred in mid-afternoon as thousands watched online via Volume One's Facebook feed. By nightfall, the building was a massive, dusty mound of wood and brick.

An example of the kind of look JCAP Real Estate is considering for new buildings on the site.
An example of the look JCAP Real Estate is considering for new buildings on the site.

Now that the 101 N. Dewey St. property is being cleared off, it’s a prime spot for redevelopment in the burgeoning neighborhood at the intersection of Dewey and Galloway streets. Volume One and the Local Store are at the northeast corner of the intersection, while the Oxbow Hotel and the Lakely restaurant/bar opened this year at the northwest corner. In fact, the Oxbow, 516 Galloway St., will be the site of an informational session about the condo project, which will be at 6pm Monday, Jan. 9.

While the Huebsch building faced North Dewey Street, the property it sat on runs several hundred yards eastward, toward Banbury Place. This vacant land lies between a branch of the Chippewa River State Trail and the Eau Claire River. Preliminary renderings from JCAP show three buildings, oriented east to west, along the property, as well as a parking lot and green space.

The 20,000-square-foots brick building was built around 1907, and it was originally the C. Gotzian & Co. shoe factory. By 1914, it belonged to Huebsch Laundry Co. In 2002, that company, now known as Huebsch Services, relocated to a new facility on White Avenue. The following year, Jack Kaiser of Cigan Properties – which owns Banbury Place – purchased the building, but it continued to sit empty.

In mid-2015, Kaiser announced plans to renovate the building, hoping to turn it into a riverside restaurant with apartments on the upper floors. However, after work began, it was discovered in December 2015 that the building was in such poor shape that renovation wasn’t feasible.

Now that the building has been demolished, work to clean and prepare the site for construction will continue for several weeks. Johnson expects to submit site plans for approval by the Eau Claire Plan Commission around February. Pending approval from the Plan Commission, the city’s Waterways and Parks Commission, and the state, construction could begin by June 1 and units could be available for rent by the end of 2017. The project will be conducted in phases, Johnson said, and it hasn’t been determined which of the three buildings will come first.

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Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 2016

Downtown Eau Claire Preps for Massive New Year's Eve Celebration Fundraiser

LIGHT IT UP. Lantern parades like this one in the U.K. helped inspire some of downtown Eau Claire’s new New Year’s festivities. Image: Jersey Tourism/Creative Commons
LIGHT IT UP. Lantern parades like this one in the U.K. helped inspire some of downtown Eau Claire’s new New Year’s festivities. Image: Jersey Tourism/Creative Commons

This New Year’s Eve, a new collaborative undertaking in the heart of Eau Claire will make the night magical in ways it hasn’t been in years – and it’s all to raise funds for the forthcoming Confluence Performing Arts Center. Through a multitude of symbiotic events and community partners, downtown will light up with music, entertainment, joy, and togetherness. The idea is to create an all-out party in Eau Claire that locals as well as people from beyond the geographic confines of the Chippewa Valley will want to come enjoy year after year.

“We know how to throw a great party in this city, so why don’t we?” – Jason Jon Anderson, co-organizer of the New Year’s Eve Gala

“We haven’t had anything like this as a city on New Year’s Eve. There’s never been an anchor to keep people downtown on this major holiday in this city. People have typically vacated Eau Claire to find something cool to do,” said Jason Jon Anderson, assistant director of conferences and event production at UW-Eau Claire. “We know how to throw a great party in this city, so why don’t we?”

The Lismore Hotel is anchoring the celebration with the first ever New Year’s Eve Gala sponsored by UW-Eau Claire, BMO Harris Bank, Blugold Radio, and The Lismore itself. The gala – which runs from 6pm to 1am that night – will have floor-to-ceiling entertainment at the hotel with tons of live music, dancing, cuisine, and champagne. Minneapolis cover band Belladiva will bring the hits while the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra will join up with Anna Johnson for magnificent jazz vibes. On the lower level, Blugold Radio is hosting a show packed full of local music. A $125 ticket gets you access to all of this plus an exclusive dinner, while a $55 ticket gets you access to the entertainment and champagne.

And that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Visit Eau Claire and Royal Credit Union are teaming up for a partnering celebration called Light Up Eau Claire, which will take the party outward into the downtown community with tons of events from 4pm to 1am. The sparkling centerpiece of Light Up Eau Claire will be a lantern parade at 11pm, the idea for which came from Eau Claire’s Australian sister city, Lismore, where people celebrate the winter solstice by crafting their own lanterns and having a community parade throughout the city. In similar fashion, Eau Claire’s lantern parade will take gala attendees and downtown partygoers from Barstow Street down to the Phoenix Park fishing pier where fireworks will be launched at midnight on the dot.

The Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra will also be on hand.
The Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra will also be on hand.

Light Up Eau Claire brings a family-friendly element to New Year’s as well, with a Little Lantern Parade at 5pm, where kids and their families can march their own lanterns from the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire across the Grand Avenue footbridge and back. Then from 5 to 7pm, there will be a special WeBop Family Jazz Party, during which Tim Sullivan leads families with a fun, interactive, kid-friendly jazz jam session incorporating different exhibits at the museum.

Elsewhere downtown, local businesses such as The Plus, The Mousetrap, and The Lakely will light up with their own entertainment and live music offerings from 8-11pm. A $10 wristband for Light Up Eau Claire will get folks into any one of these shows all throughout downtown.

Other elements of the downtown blow-out include a commissioned ice sculpture from local artist Jason Anhorn, a Dick Clark-style media stage on Visit Eau Claire’s Eau Claire-Stream trailer, and more family-friendly New Year’s shenanigans at the Rockin’ New Year’s Eve party at Hobbs Ice Arena. Meanwhile, both municipal parking ramps downtown will open up their rooftops for fireworks viewing parties.

So … it’s a lot. Some of the best stuff Eau Claire has to offer from loads of community partners will be out there on display for locals and visitors alike to enjoy on New Year’s Eve.

“I think it speaks to Eau Claire being open and collaborative and creative in everything we do,” said Linda John, director of Visit Eau Claire.

Our city is going all in on New Year’s Eve this year in hopes of creating a signature event that will persist and grow for many years to come. Downtown has evolved so much in the last few years, and it’s time to celebrate. So raise a glass and toast to the memories of our past, the hard work being put in in the present, and our city’s future which seems to get brighter and brighter by the year.

For more information on the New Year’s Eve Gala and Light Up Eau Claire head to uwec.ly/nye2016 and LightUpEauClaire.com, respectively.

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Eaux Claires Sculpture Finds Local Home Along Chippewa River

Baroque, by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi, at Eaux Claires 2016
Baroque, by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi, at Eaux Claires 2016

During the 2016 Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival last summer, a giant wire mesh structure called Baroque created by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi provided a setting for brooding organ tones between musical performances on the grounds. The huge artwork was a cool centerpiece of the festival, which saw thousands of people enjoying art and music in our little city.

Even cooler, after the dust settled on year two, Eaux Claires announced that Baroque would be donated to the city of Eau Claire to be erected in a public park for the community to enjoy for years to come. Well, that time has now come.

With the help of Visit Eau Claire, Market & Johnson, UW-Eau Claire production staff, Eaux Claires creative director Michael Brown, and Tresoldi himself, Baroque (minus the organ it contained during the festival) will be set up in some green space along the Chippewa River near the Grand Theatre in downtown Eau Claire next spring.

Baroque is 20 feet by 20 feet wide and 60 feet tall, and inside there’s space to hold unique performances. It was organ pieces at the festival, but as a fixture in Eau Claire, there will be lots of opportunity for different types of performances.

In years to come, this seems to be a goal of the Eaux Claires festival: to have some of the artwork from each festival find a home in Eau Claire. Baroque is a mighty piece on its own, and a stunning addition to the downtown Eau Claire riverfront.

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Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 2016

Art and Science Converge on UW-Eau Claire Stage

Art AND Science 2014
Art AND Science 2015

Art and science aren’t incompatible subjects, running forever on parallel tracks, never to intersect. In fact, these two fundamental ways of explaining and understanding the universe interplay and overlap in surprising and enlightening ways. That’s the idea behind “Art AND Science: Dedicated Desire and Unmatched Reason,” an interdisciplinary event now in its third year at UW-Eau Claire.

In its inaugural year, “Art AND Science” featured a film about the origin of matter in the universe, while last year it coupled live music with narration about (and images of) the solar system. Now science is being brought to the stage for a free “readers’ theater” performance at 7:30pm on Thursday, Dec. 1, in Schofield Auditorium on the UWEC campus.

Students will perform selections from four science-related plays, “along with dramatic and visual portrayals of the science involved,” according to a press release. The plays include  The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence by Madeleine George (which explores artificial intelligence); Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson (about astronomy); Copenhagen by Michael Frayn (about uncertainty and nuclear physics), and Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin (in which Pablo Picasso meets Albert Einstein).

The event’s steering committee, like its subject matter, is diverse, and includes UWEC faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including Jennifer Chapman and Arthur Grothe (theater), Matt Jewell (materials science), Jim Rybicki and Paul Thomas (physics and astronomy), and Jack Bushnell (English).

This year’s “Art AND Science” event promises to be an enlightening evening that will engage audience members’ right AND left brains.

Art AND Science: Dedicated Desire and Unmatched Reason • Thursday, Dec. 1, 7:30pm • Schofield Auditorium, UW-Eau Claire • FREE • uwec.ly/artandscience

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JUST ANNOUNCED: Country Fest 2017 Snags Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Alabama, and More

Blake Shelton at Country Fest 2014
Blake Shelton at Country Fest 2014

For the last 30 years, Country Fest has been bringing unfathomably huge country stars to the Wisconsin countryside just outside Cadott for one of the Valley’s longest-running and well-revered music festivals. This year – their 31st annual fest – organizers aren’t slowing that pace down one bit with a lineup of some of the country genre’s biggest names, rising stars, and greats from years past.

Heading up the lineup of 40+ bands is the genre-bending style of Eric Church, the chart-topping performance of superstar Blake Shelton, the groovy twang of CMA Award winner Thomas Rhett, new looks by the prolific Chris Young, and the one-of-a-kind prowess of the legendary Alabama who helped pioneer country music as it is today. 

Country Fest’s 2017 lineup continues to impress with fan favorites Dan + Shay, Brothers Osborne, The Cadillac Three, William Michael Morgan, and Cam. County music legends Wynonna Judd & The Noise and The Oak Ridge Boys will also hit the stage this summer along with up-and-comers Tucker Beathard, Drake White, and Ryan Hurd. The festival intends on announcing more acts in the months to come as well.

All tickets, VIP passes, and campsites are now on sale. Get yours at bit.ly/CountryFestOnSale or by calling the Country Fest corporate office at 1-800-326-FEST. To check out the full lineup and get more information, go to www.CountryFest.com.

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Monday, Nov. 21st, 2016

The Local Store's Big Thanksgiving Weekend Sale

Get ready Eau Claire, because The Local Store's "Thanksgiving Weekend Buy Local Bonanza" runs November 23 – November 28! There'll be huge deals going on every day at the shop, including free stuff with your purchase, limited edition products (available only as long as supplies last), discounts on everything in the store, and great events going on all weekend. See you there!

To see all of this year's deals, click right here!

And don't forget, The Local Store has NEW HOURS: Mon–Sat 9am–9pm and Sunday 9am–4pm.

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