City documents: Mall-related legal bills top $211K

in Investigations

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU – A review of the city’s outside legal expenses shows the city has paid $211,178.99 in fees surrounding Wausau Center mall in the past two years.

The city also paid real estate consultant firm Jones Lang LaSalle, or JLL, $24,000 over a six-month span to help re-position the mall, according to city documents.

At the city’s finance committee meeting on Sept. 26, City Attorney Anne Jacobson laid out the charges in a spreadsheet that detailed five separate legal issues surrounding the mall that the city’s outside lawyers have handled between November 2015 and September 2017.

The largest outlay was spent on negotiations surrounding the Sears property, which the city purchased for $650,000 last year. Those bills, split between two outside law firms, total $124,124.82 alone, according to the city attorney’s office.

Additional funds were used to terminate the city’s ground lease for the former Sears property; create the Tax Increment Financing district that encompasses the mall; handle negotiations with the mall’s former owners; and negotiate a sublease to Micon Cinemas for a proposed theater.

The theater has so far not materialized, and Mayor Rob Mielke in October issued a news release that stated the deal had fallen through. But earlier this month, city leaders expressed hope that a theater could still happen for the Sears spot, opting to hold off on issuing a new request for proposals to develop the space.

Economic Development Director Chris Schock told finance committee members that legal expenses that are considered part of the development process are funded through the TID and are labeled as administrative expenses.

The $24,000 consultancy fee to JLL was approved by the council because their representatives “spoke the language of large-scale retail in negotiating with CBL,” said Council President Lisa Rasmussen, during the Sept. 26 meeting.

CBL, the former owner of the mall, defaulted on its $18 million loan earlier this year and essentially turned the mall over to the bank. The mall was sold at a Sheriff auction in August and now belongs to a Miami-based investment banking firm.

 

3 Comments

  1. How about we all do some simple math:
    $650k for the Sears bldg
    $211k for legal fees spent on the DOA mall
    $40+k (and counting) in legal fees vs. Brent Zocher
    That’s almost a cool MILLION taxpayer dollars………for basically NOTHING. Oh, and how many MILLION are we going to pay for 80(?) acres for a well in the town of Maine?

    If that alone doesn’t tell the voters of the city of Wausau that our Mayor and city council are completely inept, I don’t know what to tell you.

  2. call1911 wrote: “If that alone doesn’t tell the voters of the city of Wausau that our Mayor and city council are completely inept, I don’t know what to tell you.”
    .
    Not necessarily inept, mostly corrupt I think. Just friends taking care of friends, call1911. That’s how it has worked in Wausau for decades. My parents hired an out of town lawyer to deal with lot line problem (with a well connected fireman) after a local law firm backed out because, as one partner from a local law firm said, referring to the neighbor’s lawyer, “I can’t sue them, I play golf with his lawyer.” Send Wausau Pilot and Review a donation. call1911, because for the first time in many years a Wausau media outlet is shining a light on what has been happening in Wausau. Things no different than what has been happening since before the “old” courthouse was demolished to make way for a new development (Kresge and Penny) back when – not too much has changed over the years.

  3. I think that corrupt is a bit of a reach, but l would vote for severely misguided when it comes to critical thinking. I would also suggest that you both do some research on how the council votes on specific issues that come before it. While the majority always carries the day, there are often dissenting votes on tough issues, so be careful not to paint all council members with the same broad brush.

Care to weigh in?