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Despite $40M bankruptcy, former Riverlife partner buys downtown Wausau property for $2.2 million

in Breaking News/News

By Shereen Siewert

The former principal partner in a multi-million dollar public-private partnership with the city of Wausau purchased the property that now houses ABC Supply Co. for roughly $2.3 million in May, five weeks after filing for bankruptcy protection in which he reported being more than $40 million in debt.

Mike Frantz was part of the original development team for Wausau’s Riverlife Villages development, which included about $2.74 million in taxpayer-funded incentives. He remained a principal figure in the development until last spring and filed for bankruptcy on April 9.

Michael Frantz

Marathon County documents show the ABC Supply Co. property, at 102 Fulton St., changed hands May 14 from Hendricks Commercial Properties to ABC Wausau LLC with a purchase price of $2,283,000.  ABC Wausau LLC, the limited liability company that purchased the property, was formed in August and lists Frantz as its agent.

Frantz, who initially reported about $39 million in debt when he filed for bankruptcy in April, filed an updated report June 6 upping his debt estimate to $41,937,458. In the updated document Frantz reported being a partner in Frantz Community Investors, Frantz Investors, Quantum Ventures and Hotel Northland — all limited liability companies — but did not list ABC Wausau LLC. And none of Frantz’s bankruptcy schedules lists the Fulton Street property as an asset.

Public documents show that First National Bank and Trust, in Beloit, provided about a $1.7 million mortgage for the property. It is unclear who provided the remainder of the funding for the purchase.

Frantz is already under fire for allegedly lying under oath about his assets during bankruptcy proceedings, according to federal court documents. On July 22, court officials filed a complaint denying a discharge of Frantz’s debt, citing multiple false statements that suggest Frantz “knowingly and intentionally made false oaths on his bankruptcy schedules.”

“The aggregate errors and omissions in the Defendant’s bankruptcy schedules and his testimony at the meetings of creditors demonstrate either the Defendant’s intent to defraud or his reckless indifference for the truth,” the complaint reads. “The Defendant twice amended his schedules. Yet, he still failed to include all of his assets.”

Economic Development Director Chris Schock said the city is aware of the purchase.

“We are aware of the land purchase from Hendricks Commercial Properties, and we have been working with a non-affiliated, other party that is planning to develop a facility to relocate ABC to a new location,” Schock said. “We’ve not heard what the plans are for the existing site as I think the focus first is relocating ABC.”

During public meetings with city officials in 2017 and 2018 Frantz offered repeated reassurances about his net worth and ability to secure financing for Riverlife, which stalled in May 2018 after several companies filed liens connected to the project topping $3 million and ceased construction at the site. As recently as March 2018, Frantz defended his track record and insisted he would secure financing for Riverlife.

“I’ve had 20 developments over x years and one of them didn’t work,” Frantz told members of the finance committee in March 2018. “I’ll take that track record.”

Representatives from ABC Supply Co. did not respond to an email asking about their future plans for relocation. Attempts to reach Frantz were not successful on Monday.

Wausau Pilot and Review has also reached out to state justice officials for comment.

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