Grand homes, trolley lines and thriving businesses in the Eau Claire community date back to the mid 1800’s. The town of Eau Claire was officially incorporated September 28, 1899 and was annexed into the City of Columbia in 1955.
Flashing forward approximately 15 years to 1970, Eau Claire, which was once a predominately white, middle income suburb, flourished into a racially integrated and economically stable area. Beginning with the national trend of suburban flight in the early 1970s, drastic fluctuations in racial balance, median income, household composition and economic stability plagued the Eau Claire/North Columbia community from 1970-1980. By 1990, the ailing neighborhoods became far less integrated and experienced a loss of both white and minority middle income households.
The area’s steady decline plagued by aging populations, smaller households, construction of subsidized apartments and the economic recessions of the 1970’s and 1980’s catapulted Eau Claire into a downward spiral. Significant problems like aging residential and commercial structures, excessive vacancies, depreciation of physical maintenance, incompatible land usage, increasing low-income populations and lack of reinvestment in the area negatively impacted the Eau Claire/North Columbia community. Concerned citizens expressed their interests and deployed various efforts to reverse the poor conditions.
A Task Force developed a two-track approach that focused on the community’s immediate and long-term needs. This dual approach allowed them to institute various projects that re-established community confidence and instilled a renewed spirit and vision in Eau Claire/North Columbia. Such projects included homeownership programs through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Columbia, as well as capital improvements like sidewalks, bus shelters, street signage control and efforts to beautify the area.
Subsequently, in February 1993, the City of Columbia officially adopted an updated Eau Claire Redevelopment Plan that created the Eau Claire Development Corporation (ECDC) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. ECDC functions as an independent entity and works toward achieving the goals and objectives proposed by the City of Columbia and the community-at-large. The organization is also charged with seeking public and private resources to conduct commercial and residential redevelopment initiatives of an entrepreneurial and community-based nature. ECDC works to serve and assist all marketing initiatives for Eau Claire/North Columbia. In addition, the organization also provides technical and financial assistance to upgrade and redevelop existing commercial and residential properties, as well as facilitates the area’s industrial construction projects. In the spirit of assisting the ECDC to revitalize the Eau Claire community, The Avail Group refurbished this 1920 vintage home in 2016.