Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect a change in the financing request from Kroening and Martino. The duo is asking for the property at no cost, but dropped a previous request for TIF financing. The term sheet included in Wausau city documents, which has not been updated, indicates a 10 percent TIF financing request. Wausau Pilot and Review regrets the error. By Shereen Siewert Members of the Economic Development Committee on Tuesday gave a preliminary nod to a $1.5 million proposal by the owners of the Sixth Street Filling Station to create a new restaurant at the former West Side Battery and L&S Printing site, a plan that is subject to full council approval.
The Dam Place rendering (Source: City of Wausau)
The project involves two parcels of property at 415 S. First Ave., both which are owned by the city. City leaders in September 2016 purchased the Westside 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 proposal from the co-owners of Sixth Street Filling Station, Jaime Kroening and Lee Martino calls for a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, as well as offering catering services. The Dam Place, named for the proximity to the Wisconsin Public Service dam, would employ 10 full-time and 15 part-time employees. A “grab and go” concept would also be included, according to the duo’s proposal. They also aim to expand their current Sunday brunch concept at the Sixth Street Filling Station into a seafood buffet on Fridays and prime rib buffet on Saturdays, the proposal states. Kroening and Martino asked the city to transfer the property to them at no cost. Previously the duo had asked for 10 percent of tax increment financing, but is no longer making that request. The duo also is working with The Samuels Group on project plans. “A $1.5 million investment in a property that was never worth that in the first place is a pretty good outcome,” said Council President Lisa Rasmussen. But Pat Peckham, who represents Dist. 1, did not support the proposal, citing concerns over the city’s investment and past issues with the property, which has been in flux for years. A previous plan to transform the building into a 99-seat Urban Street Bistro restaurant fell through after the proposer, Clint Schulz, withdrew from the project. Ultimately, the committee voted to move the project forward.