A Tour of Eau Claire’s Phoenix Park

Fellow Wisconsin community Eau Claire is receiving national attention for the design and process used in redeveloping its waterfront and downtown. Among other awards, Eau Claire recently received the National Civic League’s All-America City Award for “innovation, inclusiveness, civic engagement, and cross-sector collaboration.”

Eau Claire’s redevelopment project centers on Phoenix Park and the North Barstow/Phoenix Park Neighborhood. Phoenix Park is a six-acre public park and former brownfield site that was once home to the Phoenix Steel Company and sits at the confluence of Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. It offers a walking labyrinth, a natural amphitheater and a year-round farmer’s market.

The North Barstow/Phoenix Park Neighborhood is a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly area with buildings
 designed to echo downtown Eau Claire’s architecture. Retail shops occupy
 the main buildings’ ground floors and offices and loft apartments occupy the floors above. Community forums and resident input were key factors in Eau Claire’s process.

In 1981, the City of Eau Claire took ownership of the tax-delinquent site. The Wisconsin DNR worked jointly with the city to remove soil contamination from almost a century of industrial operations. Phoenix Park and other related projects have been funded through a mix of federal grants, community development funds, private contributions, nonprofit contributions and Tax Incremental Financing.

Center Line Community Forum, a group committed to strengthening community, encouraging civic engagement and formulating vision for smart growth, is offering a trip to Eau Claire on Friday, April 24. Participants will meet with Eau Claire’s Economic Development Director Mike Schatz, who will share the project and their experiences. Schatz has been with the City of Eau Claire for more than 30 years and also serves as the executive director of the Redevelopment Authority and the executive director of the nonprofit group Downtown Eau Claire.

Bus departs Sturgeon Bay at 6:30 am and returns at 9 pm. Cost per person for transportation, tour and lunch is $20. Full details, including how to register, are available at or by calling 920.495.7239. Space is limited; please register by April 17.