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UPDATE: Riverlife Village construction liens top $2.7 million

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Editor’s Note: Wausau Pilot and Review initially reported that liens totaled $5.5 million but has now learned the liens against each LLC are identical, leaving the amount owed as $2,797,153.10.

By Shereen Siewert

UPDATE — Four construction liens totaling more than $2.7 million were filed Monday in Marathon County Circuit Court surrounding the Riverlife Village project, with an additional $134,149 lien expected by the end of the month.

The Samuels Group, the prime contractor for the multi-million dollar redevelopment, filed all four liens. Two liens totaling $2,797,153.10 are filed naming Quantum Ventures, LLC, which now lists a Milwaukee address, while two separate liens for the identical amount are filed against Barker Financial, LLC, with an office in Iowa.

On April 10 the Samuels Group, the prime contractor for Phase I of Riverlife, sent letters of intent to the city of Wausau indicating an unpaid debt of $1,785,885.89 incurred in the project, according to City Attorney Anne Jacobson. PGA Inc., a subcontractor working on the project, sent letters on April 28 and May 4 claiming they are owed $134,149. The city was given 30 days to cure the debt.

The city was served with those papers because Wausau owns the land, Jacobson said.

Wausau Pilot and Review has also learned that Barker Financial — not Quantum Ventures — remains the developer of record on the project.

That revelation is taking some city council members and taxpayers by surprise, as the city on Jan. 9 appeared to approve a change in the developer from Barker to Quantum Ventures. But neither a signed exit agreement with Barker nor a signed developer agreement with Quantum has ever been executed.

Jacobson explained that the action the council took in January followed the resolution included in the packet: “BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor and other proper city officials are authorized and directed to work on behalf of the City of Wausau to amend the existing development agreement and groundlease to include Quantum Ventures.”

“Barker is not off the hook,” Jacobson said.

As recently as May 7, Economic Development Director Chris Schock told residents at the Longfellow Neighborhood Group meeting that the project is on schedule and construction, which has been stalled for months, would resume within days.

One day later, the council went into closed session to discuss legal strategy with respect to the Riverlife Village, but did not take action.

The city has so far funded $372,462 toward the project as part of a pre-development loan, according to Finance Director Maryanne Groat. The bulk of that number, $290,078.50, was paid to Mudrovich Architects of Wausau for design and engineering costs, Groat said. The remainder was split between Baker Tilly and Ayers & Associates.

The city has a “personal guarantee” for that amount from Mike Frantz and his wife, Jacobson said, and has not paid out any additional funds.

In an email Monday to Wausau Pilot and Review, City Council President Lisa Rasmussen said the city remains committed to the project and to protecting the rights of the city under a contract specifically designed to protect its investment while recognizing the rights of those working on the project.

“Given the legal terms of both, we continue to review options to address the matter and move the project forward,” Rasmussen wrote. “However at this point, those legal discussions remain in closed session to insure the city’s strategic position is protected.”

The first phase of the Riverlife project, a multi-phase development of a roughly 16-acre parcel along the river’s edge, includes incentives of about $2.74 million in grants and loans to support the developer and $2.27 million in infrastructure costs. Construction is underway, and Quantum Ventures representatives reported having secured letters of commitment for five apartments, a condo, a townhouse, and 17,000 square feet of commercial space to be leased.

Wausau Pilot and Review has also reached out to Mayor Rob Mielke, Economic Development Director Chris Schock, and Economic Development Committee Chair Tom Neal for comment and will update this story with their responses.



  1. No surprises here. When will the firing of staff and resignations of chairs of Ec Dev and Finance (Tom Neal and Lisa Rassmussen) besides the mayor (Robert Mielke) happen? Let’s drain the Wausau swamp.

  2. I also want to applaud the Samuels Group publicly. They have been a leader in so many things in Central Wisconsin, whether it was sustainable building, to large community clean ups, they are an active partner in our community.

  3. Well boys and girls, the defecation has finally hit the ventilator. Hang on to your hats as it going to be a rough ride.

    There are rumors that Chris Schock has been purchasing all of the lipstick he can find as this pig is going to take a number of coats.

    • Peckham will stand in front of Schock and catch any bullets coming his way.
      Patrick is obsessed with protecting Schock from any and all backlash for his lies, misleading reports and bullying of local leaders.
      The spin machine at 407 Grant St will be running at WOT on this one.

  4. The City owns this land. Is party to this lien. If we dump Frantz today, do we have to clear the lien before we can begin this work again?

    This is bad. I expect that the Mayor and Chris Shock and Tom Neal will be on local media ASAP to explain what is going on.

    • Dino said: “I expect that the Mayor and Chris Shock and Tom Neal will be on local media ASAP to explain what is going on.”

      Bwahahahaha!!!!! Dino, you’re joking, right? I’ll bet you $10 that’s NOT going to happen. IF it does, there will be nothing more than the following:
      “Umm…… comment”
      “We really didn’t see this coming and are as surprised as you all are”
      “We were assured that everything was in order”
      “This is only a temporary setback and work on our multi-million dollar pet project will start again next week”
      Etc, etc…
      This little dog ‘n pony show just might get interesting……soon. This story was first at a little over $1 million, then was updated to (I believe) $2.5 and now we’re at $5.5 within a matter of a couple hours! Gosh, let’s see how high it can go!!!
      Joking aside, there need to be some SERIOUS firings and resignations within our city government.

      • It seems like it is a simple enough solution, communicate. If you have confidence that you are right, come forward and say it.

        But, they never do.

  5. Sad part of this whole story is that many of us who have been questioning this whole fiasco for several months were portrayed at “uber rights” among other names by city staff and even our Mayor. Let’s face it, the Wausau taxpayers don’t have to be left or right when they question fraud as they see it. After all, the taxpayers ARE paying the bills and don’t need to be made fun of when they ask “why is the City of Wausau going down this dangerous path?” Let’s applaud Becky McElhaney and Dennis Smith for consistently asking the questions that nobody else would ask.

  6. This is what happens when people of little or no experience become chairpersons where they shouldn’t enemy be committee members

  7. Chris Schock said
    Sears will not leave Wausau
    The Wausau mall is not dying
    Work will begin in a few days
    Sounds like our ED director really knows what’s going on.

  8. Just asking, who is the developer on this project? How did something the City Council members voted on not happen?

    • I find it helpful in my project work to create an organization chart that lays out the key players and their relationships to one another. Usually, these relationships are well defined and either obvious by normal and customary practices or spelled out in agreements.

  9. Evidently, this is a complete NON-story with the other local “news” organizations here in Wausau. I just checked the websites of WSAU, WAOW and WSAW and zero…….zip…..nada.
    I’m not surprised. Oh and Dino, you’ll see a herd of pigs flying overhead before you see Mielke, Schock, Neal or any other Wausau politician put their faces in front of a news camera regarding this. Just sayin’…

  10. Pat Peckham is busy attacking the people that are mad about this issue. No communication from city hall aside from going after those that are angry over being lied to and ripped off, again.

    • Chris, realize it’s Pat Peckham, a typical liberal who will always use the tactic of deflect/attack when confronted with reality or logic. Par for the course. None of them will EVER take responsibility in any way, shape or form for something like this. It’s both sad and pathetic at the same time. I mean really, how juvenile can they be?

      • Whoa, I am a raging liberal too. I take responsibility for a lot of stuff. Lets leave it at they will not take responsibility, and leave us liberals out of it.


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