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City officials: Urban Street Bistro project still in play

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WAUSAU — Nearly two years after a proposal to transform a west side riverfront property into a restaurant with an outdoor patio and a mini greenhouse first surfaced, the plan is still being finalized, city officials said Monday.

The initial project, first proposed in March 2017, called for the former West Side Battery building at 415 S. First Ave. to become a 99-seat Urban Street Bistro restaurant. Then valued at about $600,000, the project asks for a $100,000 commercial loan and a $150,000 MCDEVCO commercial equipment loan, while purchasing the property from the city for $235,947. The original purchase price was set at $225,000, but has been amended to include allow the city to recoup real estate taxes on the property for 2017.

But what began as a basic remodel has since developed into a much more ambitious project with an estimated value of about $1.4 million. The new plans, which include a brew pub and a private dining areas for groups of between 30-40 people on the second floor, were unveiled in May at a meeting of the city’s economic development committee. The new proposal will not require additional public money to complete.

Urban Street Bistro, owned by Clint Schultz, now operates a food truck and catering business with about four full-time and several part-time employees. The plan does not have a specified expiration date.

On Monday, Economic Development Director Chris Schock said he expects to update the economic development committee on Dec. 4. Urban Street Bistro is paying real estate taxes on the property for 2018, Schock said.

“They are working on final plans and financing to close before the end of the year- we continue to update the Committee on the process in our updates,” Schock said.

In May, Schultz told committee members he had a commitment from a local bank to finance the project and had pulled in several local investors. At that time Schultz said he expected to close on the property within weeks, with construction beginning this summer.

Schultz’s plan was the only proposal the city received after issuing a request for proposals to develop the property. So far, the property has not changed hands.

“As we’ve noted before, we don’t close on a property before they have their construction plans, financing, title information, etc. finalized,” Schock wrote, in a December 2017 email to Wausau Pilot and Review.

The project involves two parcels of property, both which are owned by the city. City leaders in September 2016 purchased the West Side Battery property for $200,000 using a loan made by the Judd S. Alexander Foundation. The adjoining parcel, the former home of L&S Printing, was sold to the city in 2014 for $190,000, also with a loan from the Judd S. Alexander Foundation.

The design calls for using the current West Side Battery building, adding a landscaped parking area and an outside river view dining patio and greenhouse, according to the proposal. A new insulated roof, solar hot water heater, LED lighting, high efficiency HVAC and interior framing and insulation is planned, with Gaffney Construction overseeing the project.

Once the plan is finalized, the project is expected to take about a year to finish, with the business employing up to 14 full-time and more than 30 part-time employees.

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