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Stewart Avenue development still in question

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — More than four years since Wausau leaders signed agreements totaling $1.4 million with a local contractor to develop 11 acres of land, the majority of the property remains undeveloped, according to city documents.

The agreement between the city and 2800 Stewart Avenue, LLC was signed Oct. 16, 2012 and called for the developer to create about 85,000 square feet of retail or office facilities, according to Wausau Finance Director MaryAnn Groat. The developer, 2800 Stewart Avenue, LLC, is also referred to in city documents as Ghidorzi. The total development must be valued at at least $10.5 million by Jan. 1, 2020, and must create 50 full time and 20 part time jobs.

So far, 2.1 acres of land have been developed on the parcel, which sits across from Menards on the city’s far west side. The southwest parcel was sold in October 2012 to Convenience Store Investments for $1 million and is now the site of a Kwik Trip, according to Marathon County land records. That property now has an assessed value of $3,166,200, online tax records show, which generated $79,933.41 in taxable income for the city in 2016.

But the agreement also called for additional finished space to be valued at no less than $5.5 million by Jan. 1, 2016, city documents show. More than a year after the deadline, that portion of the development has not yet materialized.

Wausau City Attorney Anne Jacobson said she is in talks with lawyers for Ghidorzi about the project.

“Between the development agreement and contribution development agreement, and various resolutions, I believe there is some ambiguity,” Jacobson said. “I would expect to discuss this matter at a future committee meeting.”

In two separate agreements, the city pledged up to $1,479,712 in grants to pay for site improvements and has so far paid $513,484 toward the project, according to city documents provided by Groat. The grants are expected to be funded through tax increment and other available funds, Groat said.

In August 2014, representatives from Ghidorzi met with city leaders to discuss plans for the remaining 8.8 acres of property. At that time, the developer had provided two alternate site plans to the city, one showing two 50,000-square-foot buildings and another depicting one building of that size and another smaller building to the north. Chris Ghidorzi, director of Ghidorzi Companies, told plan commission members at that time that his business was negotiating with a pair of retailers to put up stores at the site. Neither plan has so far been completed.

Chris Ghidorzi on Monday told Wausau Pilot and Review that his organization is continuing to market the property to potential end users.

“We are working very diligently to do so,” Ghidorzi said.

The developer purchased the property in August 2012 for $1.5 million. The property was previously owned by the state.

 

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