By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — City leaders are encouraging the owners of Wausau Center mall to put the property up for sale, after news broke last week that the mall’s sole remaining anchor store will close.

At Tuesday’s economic development committee meeting, Economic Development Director Chris Schock said the Younkers closure could move mall owners in that direction.

“The city is continuing to encourage the lender/owners to…list the mall, and you know, the departure of Younkers, you know, does kind of move that process forward,” Schock said during the meeting.

A Miami-based investment banking firm bought the mall at a sheriff sale in July after former owner CBL walked away from the property. But the Younkers space is owned by a separate entity, an “out of town trust,” according to Schock, who said the trust is likely to list the Younkers property in short order.

The potential sale of the mall comes nearly two years after city leaders approved a $4.1 million plan to help CBL with physical improvements for the mall. Part of CBL’s plan, which never materialized, involved moving Younkers from its current location to the space once occupied by J.C. Penney. At the time, CBL representatives said moving Younkers was critical to keeping the anchor store open.

The move never happened. The Younkers closure began Feb. 1 and could take 10 to 12 weeks to finish. More than 50 jobs will be lost.

According to Wausau Finance Director Maryanne Groat, the $4.1 million loan taken out by the city and earmarked for the mall has since been “repurposed.” The city used $650,000 to acquire the former Sears property and dedicated $750,000 to extend Fulton Street as part of the riverfront project. The remaining $2,740,000 will go toward the city’s commitment to Frantz for the Riverlife project, Groat wrote in an email. Not all of those funds have yet been disbursed.

“I should add that $2,449,921 is remaining for the Frantz commitment and the majority of the $750,000 Fulton is still remaining,” Groat explained.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Schock said city staff will be in constant contact with the owner of the mall and the owner of the Younkers box and will regularly update council members on any related developments.

9 replies on “Younkers closure could prompt sale of Wausau Center mall”

  1. Typical Mary Ann shell game. How can one move funds designated for one project to some totally different project. Repurposed means robbing Peter to pay Frantz. These dollars need to be repurposed to relieve Wausau taxpayers of highest taxes/City Debt. What shell will the taxpayers be conned out of next.

  2. Wait, how is it possible that you get a loan for one thing, and apply it to something else? Who was this loan taken out from? Does the creditor know, that what was loaned for one thing, is going to something unrelated? How does one get terms like this for debt?

    How does this create accountability? Meaning, if the city staff goes to the Council to apply for a loan, the council agrees that the reasoning is solid, the project is meaningful, and worthy of the taxpayers THEN SUDDENLY the money appears and is repurposed for something unrelated? Did this reallocation of city debt dollars get Council approval?

  3. Repurpose the mall, recognize that brick and mortar stories are declining, and answer the questions about the loans and repurposing the funds… stop blaming the Mayor for actions by a variety of corporations and companies…

    1. I don’t blame the mayor for the mall circling the drain. I DO blame the mayor for evidently not having the mental capacity to oversee people and/or committees that are under his realm of responsibility to the office he holds. So this city needs to spend about $300k per year on an administrator? Yes, supposedly $170k per year in “salary”, but throw in benefits and all of the other associated expenses that you know damn well will occur and I’d wager it’s close to $300k PER YEAR. Tell me John, just what IS the job of the mayor and how in the hell do cities equal to or larger than Wausau handle things without an administrator? There certainly are plenty around, yet we need a six figure salaried person to babysit ours? Whatever…

  4. City leaders should stay out of PRIVATE businesses consulting/advising.
    Bureaucrats can use their own money and go into private business instead of wasting millions.
    The River district is 1% of Wausau. Focus on the 99% of Wausau.
    Most of us are sick and tired of the River District’s preferential treatments.

  5. If they get one decent manufacturing company in the industrial park that would cover all the taxation/TIF and $10 jobs of the useless river district.
    What did we accomplish downtown for years? Wasted $4.1 million, took Sears out of property taxes, donated land and construction for an adult “Chuck E Cheese’s”®, donated buildings, talked a lot about “REINVIGORATE” and now “HI END APARTMENTS”.
    Leaders comments? “Wausau is growing”.
    The only sector that is growing is the Medical. Thanks to Obama Care for draining the middle class to subsidize healthcare for an UNSUSTAINABLE healthcare growth.

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