Report: Retail Vacancies Rising in Eau Claire

Tom Giffey

The closing of four Gordy’s grocery stores, the Macy’s in Oakwood Mall, and Gander Mountain helped increase the share of vacant retail space in the Eau Claire market to 12.3 percent last year from 7.5 percent in 2016, according to a report compiled by Commonweal Development Corp. It was the second year in a row of rising retail vacancy, and 2017 ended with an additional 200,000 square feet of empty retail space, the report noted. In addition, the total amount of retail space grew to nearly 6.3 million square feet in Altoona, Eau Claire, and Lake Hallie. Meanwhile, the amount of vacant commercial office space fell from 9.8 percent in 2016 to 8.9 percent last year. Commonweal President Stuart Schaefer wrote that Eau Claire’s commercial real estate market is experiencing challenges just like other Midwestern cities. “This year saw a relatively steady office market, a strong industrial sector and varied retail activity,” he wrote in an introduction to the report. “Eau Claire’s strong retail presence does not appear to be at risk, but is still undergoing a changing landscape. The area’s office sector had some new projects and leasing activity, but did not see any larger projects or major leasing activity for a third year. There were no new industrial projects completed and occupied in the Eau Claire area during 2017, but occupancies remained steady.”