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Aldi breaks grounds; what's next for Perkins?

The owner of Perkins in River Falls said there is an option for Culvers to purchase the building from him, but nothing has been finalized yet. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Aldi has broken ground in River Falls, and is under construction. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.2 / 3
Dollar Tree is likely to open this month, according to City Development Services Director, Amy Peterson. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.3 / 3

It has been a busy year thus far for business development in River falls. Aldi, Dollar Tree and Culvers have made plans to come to town, Chippewa Valley Technical College is working on an expansion, and the River Falls Gymnastics club is construction a new building near the high school. Many of these projects have already begun construction.

New development

Aldi

Construction has begun on the Aldi building, which will be located across from ShopKo, where the Dish and the Spoon Drive Through used to be. Development Services Director Amy Peterson said Aldi is laying its foundations.

"The last I heard from them, they were hoping to be open around Thanksgiving," she said.

She said the Aldi likely will provide some competition to the city's two existing grocery stores. She said she knows many people who live in River Falls and drive to Aldis in other communities to shop.

"So to have one here in the city will be a helpful addition, I think, to some folks that won't have to travel as far," she said.

Dollar Tree

The Dollar Tree, constructed near Kwik Trip, is nearly ready, Peterson said. She said Dollar Tree is due to open around July 19.

Culver's

Culver's has yet to break ground. Right now, Culver's is doing through the development review process with the River Falls Development Department, according to Peterson.Culver's has submitted plans for the site.

"It's a full, comprehensive development review," she said.

The process takes four to six weeks on average, Peterson said. Once the development review is passed, and Culver's has had plans approved by the state, the food chain will be able to request a city building permit.

At this point, Peterson said, the city and Culver's have met once and are in the process of working on revisions.

Culver's is currently looking at the River Falls Perkins building for its location but a site has not been finalized, said Perkins owner David Wahrenbrock.

Wahrenbrock said that is an option and only one of many.

Were that option to go forward, Wahrenbrock said, both parties would need to come to an agreement. Were they to agree, Wahrenbrock would sell the building to Culvers.

He stressed that while that remains an option, nothing had been finalized at this point.

A Culver's representative said it has been discussed.

Peterson said businesses can and have in the past decided to obtain a purchase option on a location, complete the design review process, and then complete the purchase, especially if a company has had a rough development process in the past or is working in a community that company representatives are unfamiliar with.

River Falls Gymnastics Club

The River Falls Gymnastics Club has gone through the development review process — submitting plans to the city and having them reviewed, revising if needed, and finally receiving approval — and also received a building permit for a facility east located between River Falls High School and the Knollwood subdivision.

Peterson said city staff is working with Gymnastics Club leadership on signage.

CVTC Expansion

Chippewa Valley Technical College is expanding its River Falls campus at 501 S. Wasson Lane.

According to a news release by CVTC communications specialist Mark Gunderman, the $1.7 million addition and remodel is on track.

"We are on schedule to have it completed by the start of the fall semester Aug. 27," Don Morrow, CVTC maintenance project coordinator, said Monday, July 9. "The majority of the steel studs are in place and as of today the majority of the sheet rock is in place, so the project is taking shape."

The new addition has been "temporarily enclosed" to help control humidity, Morrow said. Permanent glass has yet to be installed.

According to the release:

The project adds 7,200 square feet to the 20,000-square-foot facility and remodes of 4,700 square feet of the original building. Features of the project include a larger student commons area and expanded student services space. New technology will also enhance distance learning capabilities with the Eau Claire campus and other facilities.

The addition of new programming recently helped create the need for additional space. In the last couple of years, CVTC has added manufacturing programs to its offerings at the River Falls campus. In 2016-17, ElectroMechanical Maintenance Technician was added. The program consists if the first year of the two-year Automation Engineering Technology associate degree program. In 2017-18 CVTC added Mechanical Design at the both the River Falls and Eau Claire campuses.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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