By Shereen Siewert

Members of Wausau’s Plan Commission this week gave preliminary approval for the owner of the former Shopko building in Wausau to transform the space for mixed use, a combination of storage, office and retail space.

Bill Scholfield, of the Scholfield Group, told the Commission that big-box stores have so far not expressed interest in the building, which has been owned by the Lindell family for more than 40 years. Scholfield said a large portion of the former Shopko will be used for storage, with about 27,000 square feet of retail space. A portion of the parking lot would include a smaller office building and a potential 12,000-square-foot retail space.

The building itself is not large enough for large retailers such as Costco, while other big-box retailers are more interested in “nesting” their businesses in adjacent areas, Scholfield said. That type of scenario won’t work for stores such as TJ Maxx or Trader Joe’s, he said.

Feasibility studies suggest that indoor, climate-controlled storage has become a high-demand area, Scholfield said, which contributed to the overall plan for the property.

The Shopko building, 325 S. 18th Ave., Wausau, has been vacant since 2019, after the company declared bankruptcy. In December 2019 a large banner appeared on the building touting a Trader Joe’s would open soon in the location, prompting speculation about the future of the building. But Scholfield told Wausau Pilot & Review in 2019 that there were no such plans in place.

The project appeared before the Plan Commission as part of a rezoning request to allow the plans to move forward.

Dist. 1 Alderman Pat Peckham, during Tuesday’s meeting, said he was happy the storage facility would not dominate the facade of the building as the plan moves forward.

“I like that we’re going to see something other than a giant asphalt slab out there,” Peckham said.

Scholfield said the storage facility would have significant security features and would be attractive to people seeking to store furniture or other temperature- and humidity-sensitive items, rather than vehicles or boats.

Additional details are being finalized.