Plans for the Haymarket plaza design revealed to the city council

Community members and partakers of the project discuss the benefits of having the new Haymarket Plaza

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Photo by Amanda Thao

Garret Perry, a landscape architect who has had a part in the project said that Haymarket plaza is meant to stay in line with the existing aesthetics of Eau Claire.

The newest design plans for Haymarket plaza were revealed last Tuesday to city council members after a year and a half of planning.

Haymarket plaza is set to be a focal point for community members to gather and will be located between the Confluence Arts Center and Haymarket Landing in downtown’s South Barstow District. The space, which was a parking lot for years, is now becoming a place where community members will be able to gather.

Eau Claire City Engineer, David Solberg, said their team is taking a part of the city he considers unwelcoming and used poorly and creating a spot where people will want to congregate. This, he hopes, will put a heartbeat into that part of the South Barstow district.

“We are going to breathe life into (the area) and hopefully make it shine,” Solberg said.  “This is just going to be one spot where the whole community will want to come down and enjoy the river, enjoy the theater, enjoy what kind of events there are to offer in downtown.”

Solberg and Garret Perry, a landscape architect who had a part in the project and aided with the design of Phoenix Park, said the plans incorporate decorative concrete, flat grass space and interactive water fountains that will be illuminated with colored lights. In addition, there will be multiple seating options such as benches, rocks, and a deck with seating.

The plans also tie in decorative lighting, such as a linear fire feature which illuminates at certain points of the day, with hopes to incorporate sculptures, shapes and the history of Eau Claire into the plaza as well.

Perry said the plaza is meant to stay in line with the existing aesthetics of Eau Claire, seen as a celebratory spot and highlight of the area. He said the intent of the project was to allow for the community to enjoy the space year round.

“For 365 days out of the year, somebody could go down there, view the river, be in a cool urban space, hang out and be in a space that exudes what Eau Claire is about,” Perry said.

The design also includes plans to build a pedestrian bridge that connects Haymarket Landing to Phoenix Park for greater accessibility and a location where visitors can access the river for activities such as kayaking, tubing or fishing.

Assistant Chancellor Mike Rindo said the creation of the plaza will be an opportunity for students to be more engaged in the community and downtown area and continue to change the way everyone lives there.

“Just like Phoenix Park is a wonderful asset for student life and for the quality of life overall in Eau Claire, I think Haymarket Plaza will be very complementary to that and to the art center,” Rindo said.

Megan Israel, a sophomore business management student who lives in Haymarket, shared similar sentiments. Israel said she would enjoy an outdoor hangout that is closer in proximity to Haymarket than walking across the bridge to Phoenix Park.

“I think (the plaza) will benefit the community because it is closer to the downtown district, and it will be a great place for people to just relax and have friends come over and hang out,” Israel said.

The construction of the plaza is planned to get underway this summer and completed by fall 2018.
The city will host open house will be hosted by the city to view the design and gain feedback from the community from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 at Royal Credit Union Headquarters downtown.