By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will provide $20,000 in consulting services to help determine the best use for the struggling Wausau Center Mall, according to WEDC Public Affairs and Communications Director Mark Maley.
“Just to clarify my earlier statement, this is not a grant to the city or the River District,” Maley said. “WEDC is hiring Place & Main for a project that certainly will benefit downtown Wausau and the entire community.”
An informational meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Wausau City Hall.
The plan, which is expected to be completed by June 30, will focus on three key areas:
- Concept plan: The consultant will present concepts for the site that can accommodate various potential uses for the property, and develop an initial study showing the general layout of the site.
- Visioning and urban design plan: This plan will illustrate the general site layout and location of buildings, and include details on what is needed to create a walkable, mixed-use business district that will complement the existing features of downtown.
- Initial market information: The firm will provide initial demographic data that will lay the groundwork for a market analysis that will be vital in helping to determine that type of redevelopment will take place on the site.
“WEDC is supporting this project because the city of Wausau, the Wausau River District and concerned citizens reached out to us to see if we could provide assistance in finding a new use for this largely-vacant shopping mall,” Maley said. “We believe that this site has great potential for future development that will benefit not just downtown, but the entire city and region and we are pleased to provide this assistance to launch this important revitalization project.”
Wausau has been part of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, which WEDC oversees, since 2002 and receiving this type of assistance from WEDC is one of the benefits of being a Main Street community, Maley said.
The organization chose Place & Main Advisors because of the firm’s extensive experience in reusing commercial centers in relation to downtown areas and because the team has the ability to complete the study on a tight timeline, Maley said.
Place & Main offers services to developers, statewide associations, Main Street Coordinating programs, and local downtowns and commercial districts. The firm’s principal – Joe Borgstrom – has more than two decades of experience in this area.