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Reimagining a Classic

ongoing renovations give River Edge Apartments a mid-century vibe

Katy Macek

River Edge Apartments, Eau Claire
River Edge Apartments, Eau Claire

The residential revitalization of downtown Eau Claire means more than just adding new apartment buildings: It also includes renovating some of the neighborhood’s classics.

The River Edge Apartments, at the corner of Graham Avenue and Lake Street in Eau Claire, are undergoing renovations to give them a more modern, mid-century feel.

Paul Lenz, who helps manage and operate the apartments as part of a deal reached with the building's owners, the Eau Claire Masonic Board of Trustees, said the renovations are part of reviving the heart of Eau Claire.

“There is so much to do in downtown Eau Claire and this is at such a unique location, being both a part of the university area and downtown,” Lenz said. “We gave these a minimalistic, uncluttered design, with the hope you can be involved in all these things going on downtown but not have to worry about feeling cluttered.”

With stunning views of downtown, Owen Park, and the Chippewa River, Lenz wanted to create something just as stunning inside for his tenants.

The Eau Claire Masonic Board of Trustees has owned the building since 2008, when the lease expired for a group of private investors who owned it previously. The apartments were built in 1967, however, and the board decided it was time for some changes.

While they are keeping the mid-century tones that made the apartments so appealing in the first place, Lenz said they are adding a contemporary feel to keep them modern.

The units received new woodwork, cabinets, appliances, and carpet as well as matching vinyl in the kitchen to give a “very smooth transition.” The bathrooms have also been completely redone, and renovators are essentially knocking out a closet to connect the living room and the kitchen in each unit. “It basically creates a one-room concept,” he said. “When you walk in, it’s brand new.”

The apartments are being renovated as they become available.  Lenz said seven of the apartments have been completely renovated, but they are not displacing residents to make the renovations happen. “Some people have lived there 30 years, and this is their home, so this is a process that’s going to take many years,” he said.

Current tenants range in age from their 20s to their 80s, so Lenz said the apartments are designed for any kind of lifestyle. “The location and design is kind of a timeless thing, and we have a timeless demographic,” he said.

To match the contemporary mid-century feel, Lenz said they are also renovating the lobby area and hallways, which are being done a floor at a time. This includes updating artwork and apartment numbers.

They are also creating an executive apartment that is going to be completely furnished. Designed to be rented on a limited-term basis, that apartment will also have some unique features, including cork floors and walls.

River Edge Apartments, 600 Graham Ave., is having an open house from 10am-1pm Saturday, March 25. Those interested in seeing the renovated apartments are more than welcome to drop by.

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