Justin Vernon, real estate mogul? Not quite, but the Bon Iver leader is one of a quartet of Eau Claire entrepreneurs who are developing the Oxbow Hotel — a property described by its architects as “a boutique hotel property” that “remakes the run-down Green Tree Inn complex on Galloway Street in downtown Eau Claire as a hospitality destination.”
Shelter Architecture, the firm designing the new hotel, has released its designs for the new hotel. In a press release, the firm says that the hotel — slated to open in summer 2016 — will have “30 custom guest rooms, a music lounge, an in-house bar and restaurant, and a recreation outfitter.” Further, “the Oxbow’s signature music lounge, bar and restaurant will feature a locally-sourced menu and custom-mixed drink selections.”
“We want to make a place in Eau Claire where our rich tradition of jazz can meet with other types of improvised performances and songwriting. Where we put the emphasis on cultivating a calendar of quality music appreciation,” Vernon told Volume One. “Imagine on a Tuesday seeing some of the region’s best jazz players together on stage. Or on a Wednesday, a group of us spinning obscure and amazing country 78 records from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Thursday, maybe a squad of solo songwriters. It’s all in the mix.”
Vernon’s partners in the enterprise are Eau Claire Regional Arts Council director Ben Richgruber; JAMF Software co-founder Zach Halmstead; and Volume One publisher Nick Meyer. The project is supported by a half-million-dollar grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and the partners hope to have the hotel open for business in time for next year’s Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival (Aug. 12-13).
Chef Nathan Berg will lead the regionally-themed restaurant, which will feature a craft cocktail menu developed by Marvel Bar’s Megan Arts. An artist-in-residence program “will be provided with a fishbowl-style workspace,” according to Volume One. It gets even better: every room will have its own record player, and guests will be able to borrow albums from a vinyl library in the lobby.
This is just one of the Eau Claire development projects being supported by Vernon, who’s also involved with the development of the Confluence: a multi-million-dollar arts complex being planned along the banks of the Chippewa River. Shelter Architecture, a Minneapolis firm, should be familiar to local culture vultures: they were responsible for the designs of Icehouse, Bauhaus Brew Labs, and several light rail stations.