Ponderosa Motel Wausau (Dec. 9, 2019)

By Shereen Siewert

City officials will likely issue a request for proposals to redevelop the former Ponderosa Motel property in Wausau, after a property management group presented their plan to transform the property into modern efficiency apartments.

Andrew R. Green and Keaton M. Schultz of the Schultz Real Estate and Property Management Group presented a proposal earlier this month to purchase the property from the city of Wausau for $50,000, a deal contingent upon a final inspection of the property. Schultz could also back out of the deal if renovations proved too expensive to make the project feasible.

The Schultz group proposal calls for a major exterior/interior and operational change, creating primarily an apartment complex with 16 total daily, weekly and monthly rentals. Monthly rent is projected at $450 per month, including utilities, with an on-site manager to oversee operations.

But Wausau’s Community Development Authority is likely to issue a request for proposals to ferret out any additional interest in the property before making a decision. City documents outline the RFP, which would be issued following the CDA’s Dec. 17 meeting, if approved.

The Ponderosa, built in 1946, was once under a raze order from the city of Wausau. But razing the building could present a potential for environmental contamination on the site, according to health officials.

Under the terms of the RFP, proposals would be due Jan. 24 with an initial review on Jan. 28. The full RFP can be found in the CDA packet here, beginning on page 5.

Marathon County took ownership of the motel, at 2101 Grand Ave., Wausau, in December in an effort to recover unpaid property taxes dating back to 2013. Property values at the motel had declined steadily since 1998 and plummeted in 2015 when a blaze ripped through the building, displacing about 30 long-term residents.

Officials said the Aug. 17, 2015 fire was caused by negligent use of burning materials, possibly a cigarette. At the time of the fire, the Ponderosa Motel provided temporary accommodations for residents seeking permanent housing and work in the Wausau area.

Unpaid property taxes at the site totaled more than $63,000 when the property changed hands. In addition, the county spent about $9,400 on environmental site assessments and other costs associated with the building, according to city documents.

The total value of the property in 1998 was $217,900, according to the Marathon County Land Records system; the value dropped to $150,000 in 2016.

Wausau’s Community Development Authority took ownership of the building in September.

The CDA will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 at City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau, to review the proposal.