By Shereen Siewert
City leaders on Tuesday had their first glimpse at what a reimagined Wausau Center mall space could look like in as little as five years, after a presentation by Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc., or WOZ.
Chuck Ghidorzi, on behalf of WOZ, presented the sweeping plan, which calls for hundreds of residential and office units, more than 80,000 square feet of retail space, a public market, outdoor beer garden and a spiral bridge connecting the mall property to a year-round farmer’s market on River Drive.
Project planners call for major changes that include running a portion of Third Street through what is now the center of the mall, ending at the entrance of HOM Furniture, which would be refaced. Third Street would then intersect with a newly constructed Jackson Street, that would end at Fifth Street. Second Street would also run from Washington Street through the current mall to Forest Street.
What was once J.C. Penney would be opened up with two buildings and green space, while the portion of the mall facing Washington Street would become 3- to 4-story units with retail on the lower level and residential on top. Underground parking would add more than 500 parking spaces to the downtown’s roughly 1,500 existing spaces.
WOZ, Inc. in February purchased the financially troubled Wausau Center mall from Rialto Capital Management. The acquisition does not include HOM Furniture or the two parking ramps connected with the mall, in downtown Wausau.
Eppstein Uhen Architects, a Milwaukee firm that designed Miller Park, Fiserv Forum and dozens of other major projects, created the designs unveiled on Tuesday.
No cost estimates were provided Tuesday, but the discussion was treated as an update, rather than an action item.
The purchase was funded by a pair of local foundations, the Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation and the Judd S. Alexander Foundation, in partnership with the city of Wausau.
See the full packet with renderings here.