By Shereen Siewert
After being placed indefinitely on hold earlier this year, a highly anticipated downtown Wausau project — along with associated utility and road projects — is moving forward, city officials confirmed this week.
Work on the proposed Aspirus clinic, part of a $40 million health and wellness campus partnership with the YMCA in downtown Wausau, ceased abruptly in late March.
In April, then-Mayor Robert Mielke confirmed that Aspirus reached out to notify the city that the downtown clinic’s status was 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.
But on Monday, Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg said the project is back on the front burner. Rosenberg, who was elected in April, said city officials have been talking with the Aspirus team about their work schedule and what the city will need to do to prepare.
Wausau Director of Public Works Eric Lindman said meetings with Aspirus about fall site work are ongoing.
“This is pretty exciting because Aspirus is back into design of their building and moving their construction schedule up to begin sooner than later,” Lindman said.
To make way for the project, the city plans to reroute State Hwy. 52 and Bus. Hwy. 51, and agreed to make changes to the downtown tax incremental district, or TID, to include the new clinic within a specific tax revenue area. A development agreement was signed last year.
Tentatively, the city will begin utility replacement for Second Street from McIndoe to Fulton Street in September, with work taking about one week to complete, Lindman said. The road will be brought back to grade with gravel and ready for Aspirus to begin their site work.
Lindman said Aspirus is working on a schedule to begin their own site work, with dates to be determined. The city, working with the Department of Transportation, anticipates vacating McIndoe and Second Street near the end of October with actual dates to be determined, he said.
Aspirus is continuing to work on their building design and will provide an update to the City Council when a firmer schedule is defined, Lindman said.
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, in its initial form, 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 are expected in the clinic’s first year.
Aspirus officials were contacted by Wausau Pilot & Review inviting comment for this story, but none was issued.