Assistance from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will support renovation of high-profile downtown property
MADISON, WI. Nov. 10, 2015 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded a $500,000 grant to the City of Eau Claire to help fund the renovation of the Oxbow Hotel, located on a neglected gateway property that once housed the Green Tree Inn.
WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant will help transform the property into a 30-room, high-quality, independent hotel with a 70-seat restaurant and bar with additional outdoor patio seating and performance space. Owners of the new hotel also plan to take advantage of the property’s location to rent bicycles, kayaks, canoes and floating tubes to visitors who want to access the nearby bike trail and Eau Claire and Chippewa River waterways. The hotel is scheduled to open in summer 2016.
“We believe that the vitality of communities throughout Wisconsin is directly tied to the quality of life they offer to their residents,” said WEDC Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan in announcing the grant. “I congratulate the City of Eau Claire and the many community stakeholders who have invested their time, energy and imagination into this project that increases both the livability and the economic competitiveness of the area.”
Plans for the hotel include an artist-in-residence program modelled after a similar initiative at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Commenting on the hotel’s integration with local life in Eau Claire, Nick Meyer, one of the managing partners of Longform LLC, the developers of the project explained, “Through both the hotel’s physical spaces and its programmatic offerings, we seek to evoke a deep sense of community by embracing our regional outdoor and recreation attractions, and drawing a strong connection to Eau Claire’s burgeoning, nationally-recognized music and arts scenes.”
Meyer added that the hotel’s restaurant and bar will also draw heavily from a regional aesthetic, using Wisconsin-centric ingredients including local cheese, maple syrup, wild rice, cranberries and more—artisan items that further help evoke a unique sense of place.
“I am very proud of this small group of local investors who continue to help downtown redevelopment reach new heights,” said Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid. “The city is very grateful for their constant and genuine connection to Eau Claire, and we thank WEDC for supporting this exciting project.”
WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant supports urban, small city and rural community redevelopment efforts by providing financial assistance to community-supported shovel-ready projects. Community Development Investment Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. The renovation of the Oxbow is one of 20 such grants awarded statewide in fiscal year 2014, underscoring the value the project will deliver to downtown Eau Claire.
In fiscal year 2014, WEDC’s $5.5 million in Community Development Investment Grants was matched 15 times over by other funds, representing more than $82 million of revitalization taking place in Wisconsin through this one program.
About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit InWisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.