When a resident at River Plaza Apartments asked for a new electric vehicle charging station for their EV, Commonweal Development Corp saw its chance to offer a new luxury amenity for residents. In August 2022, the property officially opened its new SemaConnect charging stations to public and private users, bringing an essential multifamily amenity to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Background

According to the US Census, Wisconsin’s state population grew by 3.6% in 2010-2020. Eau Claire County grew by 7.06% — faster than the rest of the state and on par with the national 7.4% growth rate. However, housing has not kept up with the population. While the state has an 11% housing vacancy rate, and the national rate is 9.7%, only 4.6% of housing is vacant in Eau Claire County. New single family and multifamily housing is required to keep up with the region’s rapid expansion.

According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, from January to September 2021, new housing permits in the state increased 26% over the same time period in 2020. This was higher than the national increase of 22.9% in January to September 2021. Much of this trend could be attributed to multifamily housing, which increased 67.9% year over year in Wisconsin versus 26.8% nationally. In the Eau Claire metropolitan area, new housing has increased by 94%, with multifamily construction alone increasing at 254%.

Built in 1990 and managed by Commonweal Development Corp, River Plaza Apartments is a luxury apartment community located in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. As a 30-year-old building, River Plaza has some physical constraints for construction projects, but its property management focuses on offering luxury amenities not found at other buildings. In addition to its proximity to the new Pablo Center at the Confluence, River Plaza Apartments also offers unique amenities such as a private community library, game room, and now SemaConnect electric vehicle charging stations.

The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles reports nearly 9,000 registered electric vehicles statewide in 2021. Thanks, in part to lower vehicle prices and federal programs such as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), EV sales are rapidly expanding to all 50 states, and EV charging stations are needed at residential and commercial properties.

Problem

With such high market growth, River Plaza Apartments continues to compete against newer luxury communities. While River Plaza offers some of the same amenities advertised by their competitors, such as recycling and spacious floor plans, Commonweal Development continues to monitor local trends to stay ahead of the competition. When a resident reached out to their property manager requesting electric vehicle charging stations for their EV, Commonweal Development Corp saw its chance to add another competitive amenity, especially as no other multifamily community in downtown Eau Claire offered public charging.

Commonweal Development Corp needed an EV charging solution that could charge any EV visiting the River Plaza, whether plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle. The property is located near a public bike path, so Commonweal Development wanted to ensure that the stations could be monetized or privatized to support residents. Finally, Commonweal Development needed a partner who would provide assistance when planning their project and 24/7 customer support to property management and drivers.

Solution

80% of electric vehicle charging happens at the home, which makes it the perfect amenity for multifamily real estate. Derek Trainor, property manager at River Plaza Apartments says, “At Commonweal Development, we’re always looking for new ways to blend client goals with community needs. As far as we know, no other multifamily communities in Eau Claire currently offer EV charging for residents. There are charging stations at retailers elsewhere in the city, but we have not seen private EV charging stations at other apartment buildings. We saw our chance to add another convenient amenity for our luxury community.”

River Plaza Apartments is located on the banks of the Chippewa River near the city’s new bike path. With this in mind, River Plaza decided to install four SemaConnect charging stations that could serve both private and public users.

Two dual pedestal SemaConnect Series 6 EV charging stations outside River Plaza Apartments in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Mounted on two dual pedestals, the four SemaConnect Series 6 charging stations are compatible with all plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles in North America. Designed for the elements, the charging stations are equipped with a cable management system to keep cables off the ground, making charging easier during Wisconsin’s winter months. SemaConnect’s smart cloud-based software empowers River Plaza’s property management team to set pricing, manage access, and view reports on metrics such as usage, revenue, and sustainability. SemaConnect’s smart software also offers load management features that allow older buildings to share power across the entire charging station program in order to reduce the strain on the building.

Today

River Plaza’s four new SemaConnect charging stations are officially open for use. While property management chose to initially open the stations to both public and private users, they have the option to later make this a free amenity exclusively for River Plaza residents. River Plaza Apartments is officially the first multifamily community in Eau Claire to offer EV charging to both public and private users, and other communities are sure to follow.