By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A set of local developers vying to develop the stalled Riverlife Villages Phase I project say two outstanding legal issues facing members of the team were filed without merit and will not impact their ability to move the development forward.

Local partners Bob Ohde, Mitch Viegut and Dr. Fernando Riveron propose purchasing the existing 52-unit apartment lot and foundation on the eastern side of the city’s riverfront for $1, then resume construction with capital supplied by all three partners. When news broke Wednesday in The City Pages about a $34,346 lien filed against a different project spearheaded by Viegut and Riveron, the news took the development team by surprise.

The lien was filed June 1 in Marathon County Circuit Court by Jose S. Fuste against Vistas Development at Greenwood Hills, a mixed-use development situated on the Greenwood Hills Golf Course. Contractors have already been paid more than $3 million for their work on the project, which is on track for a Dec. 15 opening.

Viegut said Fuste was never a construction representative or subcontractor for the project, but rather a “disgruntled consultant,” which would make the court filing a potential false claim subject to further court action. Construction liens are typically reserved for builders, contractors, and suppliers as a legal recourse to get paid for their work as well as any materials or supplies purchased for a project.

Ohde is not involved with the Vistas project, but he is named in a bizarre legal action in Florida in which an attorney is suing multiple parties including the Jacksonville Jaguars football team in connection with offers to purchase a redevelopment project in Jacksonville.

In the Florida case, attorney Tim Howard is suing multiple groups in an attempt to recover about $1.1 million in earnest money he lost when trying to buy a property now slated to be transformed into a hotel and resort. Viegut said he and Ohde put in an offer, then toured the property but ultimately backed out of the deal and have no connection to Howard or his group.

Viegut said Ohde has never been formally served in the lawsuit, which Ohde’s attorney is defending as frivolous.

In Wausau, city officials are aware of both issues and are continuing their vetting process to determine whether the local group is the best fit for the project. Gorman and Co. of Oregon, Wis.  also submitted a proposal but at a meeting earlier this month urged city officials to choose the local developers instead.

Viegut told Wausau Pilot and Review he is enthusiastic about assuming the Riverlife Villages project, which he, Ohde and Riveron are financing.

“We think the city has done a great job at the riverfront,” he said. “It’s beautiful down there. We’re putting up our own capital because we believe in the project and we know we can get it done.”

Image: Mudrovich & Associates

5 replies on “Local developers: Lien, Florida lawsuit lack merit, won’t impact Riverlife”

  1. They are anxious, they want $3 millions + of real estate for a $1. Why not? Keep giving away, you never earned it wasteful government.
    Offer it to the construction company that has a lien on it with some other benefits and stop wasting tax dollars to please the downtown clique.

    1. No! The city knows how to attract profiteers and charlatans. Who wants to build next to railroad tracks and warehouses in a town considered the “Trashiest” in Wisconsin? Not honest or business savvy individuals.

  2. Why does everyone who comments about this suggest to give the foundation to Samuels Group as the obvious solution as if they want it?
    Im not privy to any behind the scenes details but my guess would be if they wanted it, they would have been building on it already with or without Frantz as an investor. As an aside the 3 million lien is probably way over the actual value of the foundation, front-loaded billing to finance construction between draws, another reason not to take the foundation and call it even.

  3. I wanted to add something to consideration. The documented failure of the process and decision making that led to Fraantz has been clear. Council President Lisa Rasmussen has spoken out about it. The Mayor has said that the process is different now.


    How is it different?
    What were the requirements prior to this, and what are they now?
    Is there a public scorecard that the you know, public can see?

Comments are closed.