By Shereen Siewert
City documents show taxpayers in Wausau are footing the bill for more than $2.7 million in expenses directly related to the Riverlife Village Phase I project, which is set to resume this month with a new developer.
The tally, obtained by Wausau Pilot and Review through an open records request, shows that the city’s outlay so far directly connected to the project is $567,345.53 in monies paid for services such as outside legal fees, architectural renderings, frost protection and engineering costs. The amounts are current as of June 13 but do not include money spent on infrastructure and property acquisition.
City officials have also committed to future settlements totaling $2,190,767.38. The bulk of that amount — $2,050,000 — will be paid to The Samuels Group to resolve a construction lien filed in September in connection with debt racked up not by the city, but by a former developer. Officials say the money being repaid is an eligible expense under tax increment financing law and falls under “incentives” approved in July 2016 to support the project, which stalled more than a year ago.
Wausau Finance Director MaryAnne Groat said she does not have detailed invoices from Samuels that document the amounts being paid for the lien settlement, though Council President Lisa Rasmussen said she believes the city’s outside legal counsel may have the information.
“We have discussed the work that was done by the contractors who have liens to settle and the amounts associated with them,” Rasmussen said. “This was done in closed session via Skype with the legal team some time ago, but the council has been made aware of what was done and what the costs were as they considered the settlement.”
In addition to the settlement for The Samuels Group, $32,728 will be paid to Ayres & Associates and $108,039.38 will go to Mudrovich & Associates, according to the city’s tally, which Groat prepared. Ayres previously received payments totaling $73,950 for private site work and engineering services, while Mudrovich previously received a payment of $290,078.50 for architectural services.
Other Riverlife Villages expenses paid to date according to the tally sheet are as follows:
Baker Tilly: $68,884
Londerville Steel, for foundation frost protection blankets: $3,150
The Samuels Group, for foundation frost protection: $20,565
Re-Vi Design, to repair the riverfront irrigation lines damaged during foundation work: $18,294.92
Quarles & Brady, for legal fees: $92,422.51
According to city documents, city officials negotiated with The Samuels Group and other existing contractors and will cure the defaults under new terms approved during their May 28 meeting. Construction on the project will restart by June 30. The council in May officially awarded the project to Riverlife Wausau LLC, a group formed by Bob Ohde, Mitch Viegut and Dr. Fernando Riveron. The group is expected to complete the Phase 1 building in “substantial conformation with state-approved plans authored by Mudrovich and Associates” with a minimum value of $7 million.
The city will lease the Phase 1 project site to the developer to restart the project but will sell the land for $1 at the closing of primary financing or when the project is complete.