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City docs: Thomas Street real estate acquisition to begin in February

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — The process to acquire real estate along Thomas Street from Fourth Avenue to the Wisconsin River could kick off as early as February, according to city documents.

Members of the finance committee on Tuesday will review a request to spend more than $165,000 on real estate acquisition services from MSA, the same firm that handled acquisitions for the first phase of the Thomas Street project. (See the full compensation chart and proposed  schedule, embedded below.)

Typically, the city accepts bids for services greater than $25,000, but staff is recommending a sole source agreement with MSA in part because the acquisition and relocation along the Thomas Street corridor is the second phase of a continuing project, according to the city’s purchase justification form.

MSA’s proposal, uploaded late this week to the finance committee’s packet, calls for a team of 10 people to handle the negotiations for the city. Those representatives would work to fully acquire up to 15 residential properties and three commercial properties along the corridor. They will also negotiate with the owners of eight residential properties and up to seven commercial parcels for a strip of their land to accommodate the reconstruction plan.

The eminent domain process can be stopped only if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public necessity or public purpose, according to legal documents. If these tests are met, the government cannot be stopped from taking either residential or commercial property, but the government cannot dictate the price it will pay, either.

According to a proposed schedule for real estate acquisitions, introduction letters are expected to be sent to all affected landowners in mid-February, with an invitation to a property owner involvement meeting. The relocation plan and appraisal inspection would begin Feb. 26, and appraisals would be ready for city council review by mid-August.

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