Burke enhances convention center proposal
Posted: April 18, 2008
Dave Burke, owner of The Florian Gardens, 2340 Lorch Ave., Eau Claire, has expanded on his plan to develop an adjacent, two-story convention center if he is able to acquire the land and the public assistance necessary to proceed with the project.
"We will have 60,000 square feet on the main floor, with 48,000 square feet dedicated to the convention and trade show business that will be able to seat 3,500 to 4,000 people. The second floor will have corporate offices, break-out rooms and possibly some space for lease to other tenants," said Burke, who added that he will need to purchase nearby land from the Eau Claire YMCA and is requesting that the City of Eau Claire create a tax incremental finance (TIF) district and assist with financing a feasibility study.
"We have lost so much business. In fact, our studies show that Eau Claire has lost about $40 million in revenue because we don't have a facility large enough to host larger groups, like state associations," he said.
The Florian Gardens, which attracted 121,000 patrons in 2007, is located next to Action City and the newly-constructed Metropolis Hotel. Tom Hahn and Mark Steil, who own those two businesses, intend to develop a second phase to the 107-room hotel some time next year.
"Our businesses compliment one another very well. If even a quarter of the people who come to Florian Gardens for a wedding, trade show, corporate event or private function stay at a nearby hotel, everyone will benefit," said Burke, who estimated that the convention center would cost about $6 million to build.
Currently, The Florian Gardens can seat 524 people in the ballroom or up to 1,600 people theatre-style. The operation features 16,000 flowering plants, including 4,000 tulip bulbs. TBL