Looking Ahead 2019 - Looking Further Ahead

Tom Giffey

As much as will be going on in the Chippewa Valley in 2019, it’s already clear that 2020 will be a big year around here, too. If our vision is as clear as we think it is, here are some things we can look forward to in that very futuristic-sounding year:

Construction should be finished on the proposed Block 7/liner site development on North Barstow Street, which is expected to include a new home for the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, 125,000 square feet of office space, a public plaza, and a “container park” made from repurposed shipping containers.

Also downtown, work will likely begin in 2020 on a seven-story mixed-use structure in the 400 block of South Farwell Street, which would include a new transit center for the city. That block is the site of the city’s current bus transfer center, an underwhelming cinderblock structure which was meant to be temporary when it was built in 1985.

In addition to the transit center, the building would include commercial space, a parking ramp, and as many as four floors of apartments. Another downtown mainstay could be transformed in 2020, too: The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library is considering a major renovation effort that could double its square footage, in part by adding a third floor. The library is currently studying the feasibility of funding the project through public and private means.

Meanwhile, UW-Eau Claire is hoping to build a new science building and to begin work on the proposed Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex, but the exact start of those efforts is uncertain.

And while all this work is going on, downtown Eau Claire may be welcoming thousands of music fans during the summer of 2020 as the Eaux Claires Music & Arts fest comes off of its 2019 “gap year” with a new look and a new location. Festival planners intend to relocate the annual eclectic gathering from the Country Jam grounds outside the city right into downtown, making use of the Pablo Center at the Confluence and other venues.