Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect a change in the dates for a new RFP. The dates listed in the city’s meeting packet for Oct.1 were dates from 2016.
By Shereen Siewert
City officials will seek a new developer to transform a property on Wausau’s west riverfront, after a Wausau Pilot and Review report revealed the Wausau food truck owner who sought city assistance to help fund a restaurant at the location was arrested for shoplifting vegetables and other items from a Rib Mountain store.
Wausau Pilot and Review first broke the story Sept. 17 about the April thefts, news that was later picked up by other news outlets. According to a Marathon County Sheriff’s Department incident report and related documents from the Marathon County District Attorney’s office, 47-year-old Clinton T. Schultz was caught stealing about $429 worth of food, supplies and electronics and admitted to the thefts.
As a first-time offender Schultz entered into a deferred prosecution on May 16, according to Ruth Heinzl, program coordinator with the Marathon County District Attorney’s office. The pre-charge agreement means that if Schultz completes 60 hours of community service, pays all restitution owed and complies with any other recommendations by his case manager he will not have a criminal theft charge on his record, Heinzl said.
Schultz’s plan, which went through several changes over the past 2 1/2 years, is no longer being considered. During an Oct. 1 meeting of the city’s economic development committee, Economic Development Director Chris Schock said Schultz is no longer interested in the project, which involves two parcels of city-owned property.
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 initial project 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 asked for a $100,000 commercial loan and a $150,000 MCDEVCO commercial equipment loan, while purchasing the property from the city for $225,000.
But what began as a basic remodel later developed into a much more ambitious project with an estimated value of more than $2 million. Those plans, which included a brew pub, were later scuttled in favor of a scaled-down project.
On July 16 Schultz applied for a low-interest commercial rehabilitation loan of $125,000 to defray the cost of a planned outdoor patio, window replacement, roof repair, door replacement and parking lot landscaping. Commercial rehabilitation loans aim to “to stimulate rehabilitation and redevelopment of commercial real estate within downtown Wausau,” according to city documents. Such loans, which are maintained and monitored by the finance department and reviewed by the city’s economic development committee, carry a 1.5 percent interest rate with payments deferred for one year.
Schultz told members of the economic development committee in August he was in an “excellent position to tentatively set a closing date” with a local bank to complete the purchase. Schultz said then he was waiting for revised estimates from contractors that reflect changes in his plans for the property, which had been downsized to their original state.
The proposed purchase price to Schultz was amended last year to $235,947 to allow the city to recoup real estate taxes on the property for 2017, and has since been amended to $246,895 to reflect property taxes that the city would have collected for 2018 if the sale had closed as scheduled. The tax amount was based on an assessment completed before the city acquired the property, according to figures provided previously by Schock.
A new request for proposals will be issued in the coming weeks.