By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Members of the city’s economic development committee on Tuesday granted a request by an Iowa-based developer to draft plans for a mixed-use development in the 100 block of Scott Street, a prime piece of downtown property.

Brent Dahlstrom, of Merge, appeared June 4, 2019 at the Wausau Economic Development Committee meeting to discuss preliminary plans for 120 Scott Street. Photo: WAAM screenshot

The property, at 120 Scott St., is across the street from the Dudley Tower and was once the site of a row of businesses including the Scott Street Steak and Pub, The Vogue and others. The city purchased the property from McDevco in April 2016 for just over $1.6 million.

Brent Dahlstrom, who represents Merge Urban Development, told committee members he envisions a development that would include retail on the lower level with market-rate housing above. Dahlstrom requested an exclusive planning agreement that would give his architects and planners time to come up with a rendering and site plan, which is expected to take between two and three months to produce. The entire planning process would likely take about six months, Dalhstrom said.

The committee approved the request unanimously.

From 2005 to 2008, MCDEVCO and the Alexander Foundation worked together to raze the buildings on the block Scott Street. When the demolition was complete, the city entered into a long-term parking agreement with MCDEVCO o to operate a public parking lot on the property. The long-term expectation for the property was for the city to purchase the parcel from MCDEVCO to facilitate redevelopment, according to a March 2, 2016 memo to the economic development committee written by Finance Director MaryAnn Groat.

City leaders previously rejected two proposals for the property.

In March 2017, council members nixed a proposal for a four-story Cobblestone Hotel & Suites on the property amid concerns that the $1.5 million aid package requested by the developer was too high. The proposal called for a 61-room 9,929-square foot hotel that would have included a bar and restaurant, according to city documents.

Then in November 2017, the council voted down a $6 million proposal by Lokre Companies that called for construction of a 48-unit high end apartment building with underground parking and ground floor retail space. The proposal requested the city sell the land to Lokre for $500,000, provide a $250,000 grant for site work, and provide a $99,000 reverse TIF payment annually for 12 years, according to city documents. That proposal was rejected amid concerns that the city’s financial involvement would have been too high.