Retail Vacancies Decline in Eau Claire, Report Says

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

The opening of a huge new Fleet Farm store on Eau Claire’s south side contributed to a relatively healthy year for the Chippewa Valley’s commercial real estate market in 2018, according to a new report compiled by Commonweal Development Corp. The report found that retail vacancies fell to 11.7 percent last year, compared with 12.3 percent in 2017. However, vacancies in the industrial and office sectors ticked upward. The amount of vacant office space rose less than a percentage point to 9.4 percent in a year that saw the completion of a new office building in Oakwood Hills (primarily occupied by Wipfli), an office building for Drylock Technologies, and several other projects. There was little activity on the industrial front, the report stated, with the region’s industrial vacancy rate just above 2 percent, compared with a national average of 4.9 percent. “For the first time in four years, the Eau Claire area commercial real estate market saw some significant retail and office construction projects completed,” Commonweal President Stuart Schaefer wrote. “These significant projects were accompanied by the lease up of several large vacancies but offset by additional retail closings.” Each year, Commonweal – an Eau Claire-based real estate and development firm – reports on the commercial real estate market in Eau Claire, Altoona, the Town of Washington, and the Village of Lake Hallie. 

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