Posted: September 7, 2007
I do not know why it is, but the week after a vacation is the hardest time for me to write this column. One would think it would not be so difficult after having an extra week to come up with an editorial topic. Consequently, I could bore you with what I did over my one-week hiatus or I could detail the list of players that I selected in this week's two fantasy football drafts. Instead, I think I will address the large number of inquiries I receive asking me about the status of commercial development in the Chippewa Valley.
I predicted this past spring that commercial development in West Central Wisconsin was ready to take off during the summer months. Boy, was I wrong. So many of the potential stories that I thought I could write about in July and August did not materialize. However, as the eternal optimist, I am beginning to think that I was only a few months off with my bold prediction. Despite the reported doom and gloom of the housing market and the increasing number of foreclosures and credit card delinquencies, area developers are telling me that many of their projects that have been in the planning stages for months are finally getting close to coming to fruition.
The most frequent questions I receive involve the future development in the City of Altoona, the Village of Lake Hallie and the City of Eau Claire. Personally, I do not think anything will happen in Altoona before next spring at the earliest since the major local developer, Goldridge Group, has a lot on its plate with the completion of the first phase of the Waterford project. I think new development will continue in Lake Hallie, but I think many of the potential large retailers and/or business users will wait another six months to monitor the traffic counts on the Highway 53 Freeway before they commit. In Eau Claire, retail development will continue to grow as new building sites on the south side attract multiple tenants.
There are several projects planned for Chippewa Falls and Menomonie, but many of those have been in the rumor mill for months. Until I hear something more definitive, I cannot confidently predict that either municipality will have much to report until later next year. I hope I am wrong. On the other hand, I know of at least three commercial projects that are being discussed in rural Chippewa and Dunn Counties.
I encourage anyone who has a differing opinion or knows something that I don't know to call me (834-7337) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, all information remains confidential.
Otherwise, I am really hoping the St. Louis Rams score a lot of points this year and that Chicago Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian has a career season.