By Shereen Siewert

A highly anticipated downtown Wausau project — along with associated utility and road projects — is indefinitely on hold, city officials confirmed Monday.

Work on a proposed Aspirus clinic, part of a $40 million health and wellness campus partnership with the YMCA in downtown Wausau, ceased abruptly in late March and the clinic no longer appears on the overall project timeline.

Bryan Bailey, CEO of the Woodson YMCA, and Chad Kane, president of the Woodson YMCA Foundation, both referred questions about the project status to Aspirus.

Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke confirmed that Aspirus reached out to notify the city that the downtown clinic’s status is in question due to the “unknown continuation of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis” and said Aspirus did not indicate when or if the project will resume.

A development agreement between Wausau and Aspirus, carved out in June, is “still in place and continues to protect the city’s interests,” Mielke said. A copy of the development agreement is embedded below.

To make way for the project, the city planned to reroute State Hwy. 52 and Bus. Hwy. 51. Those plans are now on hold, Mielke said, as are utility plans for the site.

To accommodate the project, city officials agreed to make changes to the downtown tax incremental district, or TID, to include the new clinic within a specific tax revenue area. City documents show the proposed amendment for TID 12 is set for discussion by the council, and then by the joint review board, later this month.

The 36,000-square-foot Aspirus Clinic, projected to cost about $20 million to build, was designed to offer primary and walk-in care, as well as laboratory and imaging services. Renderings show the building’s location bordered by McIndoe and Fulton streets, between Second and Third streets, about a block from Cloverbelt Credit Union. The project called for parking on Second Street, with a drop-off spot for patients on McIndoe Street and a skywalk connecting the clinic to the YMCA.

About 30,000 patient visits were projected in the clinic’s first year.

During a November 2018 council meeting Sid Sczygelski, senior vice president of finance at Aspirus, told members of the council that the organization initially eyed an even larger, 50,000-square-foot facility based on need and the “efficiency of working downtown.” The proposed clinic, Sczygelski said then, would be one of three major Aspirus hubs in the metro area.

Aspirus officials have not responded to a request for comment on the project status.

Mielke pointed out that Aspirus purchased property from the YMCA and is under contract to purchase property from Attic Corrections Service in the plan area. In addition, Wausau is moving forward with traffic upgrades, which will include new pavement markings for lane changes stretching from Fifth to First street that will reduce  the number of driving lanes to two while widening the driving lane from 10 feet to 12 feet while adding a six-foot bicycle lane, using grant funding associated with the Aspirus project.

“(Aspirus’) sole focus right now is to ensure they are able to fully serve the region during this pandemic,” Mielke said. “We will continue to have ongoing communications with them during this time period.”Executed-Development-Agreement-with-Aspirus