Water Street Apartments to Move Ahead After Council Vote
EC City Council appoves rezoning for project
The Eau Claire City Council voted Tuesday to approve a developer's rezoning request, a decision that will make way for the construction of a two-building student-oriented apartment development in the 700 block of Water Street.
The project, dubbed the Water Street Flats by JCap Development & Construction, will encompass most of the south side of the 700 block of Water Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues roughly across from Joel's Water Street Auto). Plans call for two buildings: a 24-unit building with 12 two-bedroom apartments and 12 one-bedroom apartments and a 16-unit building with 12 two-bedrooms apartments and four one-bedroom apartments.
Currently, the property is occupied by six one- and two-story wood-frame homes built in the 1870s and 1880s. A seventh home, at 715 Water St., would remain, flanked on either side by the new apartment buildings.
The City Council approved the rezoning request during its legislative meeting Tuesday evening. The proposal had previously received the go-ahead from the city Plan Commission, but a rezoning request like this one requires an OK from the City Council as well.
The property was rezoned from residential-medium density to central business district-planned development. In the past, different city planning documents had suggested different approaches to redeveloping the area. For example, the Water Street Commercial District Plan encouraged mixed-use development (including commercial and residential structures), while the Randall Park Neighborhood Plan questioned whether first-floor commercial space would be viable, and instead encouraged first-floor dwellings.
It its application to the city, JCap noted that “Water Street Flats will help achieve the desired outcome of the Randal Park Neighborhood’s Comprehensive plan. The increased density on the 700 block of Water St. will help reduce the number of students renting further north in the (neighborhood), and hopefully open up opportunities for an increase in owner occupied houses on Lake, Hudson, Broadway, and Niagara (streets).”
JCap’s application also described the project this way:
Water Street Flats intends to offer a product that vastly exceeds the market average. The design and layout of the property is unique to the Eau Claire area. JCap DC identified an opportunity to bring much needed apartments to the Water St. area, without repeating the same style of architecture and apartment product that has been built thus far. All 40 units offer direct entry from the outside, letting us eliminate any common hallways, which increase construction cost and become a maintenance nightmare when renting to students. The elimination of common hallways, let JCap keep construction costs low, and pass the saving on to the student tenants.
The developer also says the three-story buildings will feature “a mix of modern and traditional architectural features.” A artist’s conception included in the application shows structures that resemble some of the multistory apartment buildings that JCap has built in recent years nearby on Chippewa Street.