Posted: May 17, 2013
I attended the news conferendce this week at the RCU Conference Center that discussed the operating procedures for the proposed Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire. One year ago to the day, the partners of the development hosted the media informing them about plans for the $88 million downtown project.
I am worried that the Confluence Project will not happen. I say this because the demeanor of the parties involved seemed very distant and were not engaged with the 35 people in attendance. Last year at this time, there were more than 100 people at the news conference.
Although the report from Ames,IA-based VenuWorks indicates that the proposed Performance Arts Center will be profitable after the first year, there are many questions that need to be answered.
I have spoken with at least six members of the Eau Claiire County Board who have reservations about funding the Confluence Project. Their hesitance to support the project are warranted since it appears that the City of Eau Claire will be the main beneficiary of the downown development. I hope that the partners who are promoting the Confluence Project can demonstrate to the county that there is a beneifit for the entire community to forward funding for the facilities that are proposed.
I have been a proponent of the Confluence Project. I see this development as an economic benefit to the city and a shot in the arm for the arts and entertainment industry in downtown Eau Claire. Having said that, I also realize that this proposal is not exact. In other words, the partners involved in the project know that things will change and the orginal plan will continue to be tweaked to adhere to the public's desires.
I am glad to see that Haymarket Concepts, LLC, (which includes Commonweal Development, Market & Johson and Blugod Real Estate) are still forging ahead with their plans for the Confluence Project. But I am concerned that the vigor that was exhibited a year ago is waning.
FYI: I have received a number of phone calls and e-mails regarding the adhesives that are affixed to The Bottom Line newsletter. This is a requirement of the U.S.Postal Service and I apoligize if the tape that surrounds the weekly publication makes it difficult to open or place in a three-ring binder. I have no control over the distribution of the newsletter as it pertains to the tape that encompasses the mail piece. I apologize for the nuisance.