EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - The city of Eau Claire is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help revitalize downtown.
Eau Claire Economic Development Manager Aaron White said the grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is a pass-through grant, meaning the city applies for it on behalf of a business and then the awarded funds are passed on to the business, which in this case is Merge Urban Development Group, a real estate company based out of Iowa.
Merge is investing $19 million into the project that is being built at the former railroad parking lot on Farwell Street behind Scooter's Bar and Galloway Grill.
It will have five commercial retail storefronts on the first floor and 76 apartments spread across the other four floors.
"Their design's incorporating elements for micro-retail, which means they can break their commercial space down to very small pieces, which is currently a real driver in our market for downtown for retail spaces. A lot of the projects that are coming to us are looking for spaces to lease under 1,000 square feet, which is hard to find right now currently," White said.
The grant money will be used to help offset construction and demolition costs.
Merge officials say rent for apartments is planned to start at $1,000 a month.
When it was first announced, the project did face some backlash from neighboring businesses owners who used the parking lot for patios as well as customer parking.
Officials said the building is expected to open next summer.