2012 Year in Review: Whoa! A New Arts Center for Downtown Eau Claire?

V1 Staff

MAY 15 • One story has seemed to dominate headlines across Eau Claire more than any other, and for good reason: The Confluence Project could change the face of our downtown and our entire area. The year began with a series of discussions regarding new events spaces in the city, but those lists of hopes and dreams quickly began more concrete. When the massive arts center and multi-use building was announced on May 15 there weren’t a ton of details. We knew it was a partnership between UW-Eau Claire, Commonweal Development and the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center. We could see from the sketches it was ambitious and we knew it would be expensive. And we hoped it could finally provide the needed spaces to help our already strong arts community thrive.

Now, after months of presentations and debates, the vision of the Confluence Project is beginning to come together. The total cost will be $88 million, shared among the UW System, Commonweal, independent donors, Eau Claire County and the city. The multi-use building will contain arts-focused student housing and first floor retail space and the larger building will have a variety of theaters. We also know that a number of historic buildings will have to be lost in order to build (though the fate of S. Barstow is still in the air).

So far it’s received some initial thumbs up from the UW Board of Regents and city council, a $1 million donation from RCU, and a bit of the “Bon Iver bump” – a signature Bon Iver guitar was auctioned off in October – but a lot of work still needs to be done to make this gorgeous building a reality.

Something tells us this will be on a few more future Year-In-Reviews, hopefully including a grand opening.

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