No-Go on Former Huebsch Property Condos: Developers Pivot to Apartments

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

A demolition crew ripped down the former Huebsch building, 101 N. Dewey St., in downtown Eau Claire on Nov. 29, 2016.
A demolition crew ripped down the former Huebsch building, 101 N. Dewey St., in downtown Eau Claire on Nov. 29, 2016. Current owner of the property JCap Real Estate has new plans for the land.

Plans to build a riverside condominium development in downtown Eau Claire have been shelved in favor of building a complex with market-rate apartments and commercial space.

JCap Real Estate recently told people who had expressed interest in the previous plan that a condo development on the former Huebsch Services building site wasn’t financially feasible.

Based on the input that JCap had received from potential condo buyers, the construction cost of the condo development – dubbed The 101 – would have forced JCap to charge those buyers far above market rate for the condos, said Alex Padrnos, JCaps’s project manager.

“We don’t feel comfortable putting that price tag on the units in this market,” Padrnos said. “We’re still relatively blue collar in Eau Claire.”

This floorplan shows what the first level of a proposed five-story apartment complex at the corner of Galloway and North Dewey streets could look like. Most of the parking on the east end of the image would be covered by the higher floors of the building. Source: JCap Real Estate/Kaas Wilson Architects.
This floorplan shows what the first level of a proposed five-story apartment complex at the corner of Galloway and North Dewey streets could look like. Most of the parking on the east end of the image would be covered by the higher floors of the building. Source: JCap Real Estate/Kaas Wilson Architects. Click for a closer look.

Instead, the company has switched to plans for a five-story, 139-unit apartment building with commercial space on the first floor. Units would range in size from 600 to 1,400 square feet. Most would have market-rate rents, while a few luxury apartments on the fifth floor would be aimed toward those who had been interested in condominiums. In addition, the development would include 224 parking stalls – including a 26-stall lot facing North Dewey Street – and a public space and canoe launch next to where the Dewey Street bridge crosses the Eau Claire River.

The two-acre site at the intersection of North Dewey and Galloway streets has been empty since the long-vacant Huebsch building was demolished in November 2016. JCap, which owns numerous rental properties in Eau Claire, purchased the property from Jack Kaiser, owner of Banbury Place.

Padrnos said JCap has had preliminary discussions about the proposal with the city, and has met with a positive response. A site plan still must be approved by the city Plan Commission. JCAP hopes to break ground for the project this spring with completion by the spring or summer of 2019.

The city also has plans for that part of downtown, including relocating part of the Chippewa River State Trail which currently runs on the north side of the property (just south of Galloway Street). That trail segment would be moved to the south side of the property, where it would overlook the Eau Claire River, then pass under the Dewey Street bridge and connect with the trail adjacent to the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce building, City Manager Dale Peters said. The bike trail underpass would be built as part of a long-term plan to renovate and re-deck the bridge, which is slated for 2020 or 2021. Peters said connections would be built to allow visitors and bikers to access other parts of downtown to and from this trail segment.

Peters said the former Huebsch site is “an integral part of downtown and we’d be excited to see something in that space.” And while the city has yet to receive official plans from JCap, city officials are “open to discussions about a site development that provides appropriate open space ad access to the downtown and the river,” Peters said.

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