City leaders are considering a project for the former Wausau Chemical site. (Photo: Wausau Chemical)

Damakant Jayshi

The Economic Development Committee on Tuesday approved a set of deed restrictions related to the former Wausau Chemical property, which is being redeveloped as a a first-of-its kind public indoor green space in the city.

The committee approved the staff’s recommendation to move forward with the proposed sale of the property for $40,000, the price proposed by the developer, Asch Properties, LLC., along with the deed restrictions. The five-member committee unanimously approved the recommendations.

According to the agreement, Wausau has the option to repurchase the land for the sale price plus the cost of any structural improvements if construction isn’t consistent with the proposal. The agreement also calls for Asch to reach occupancy within one year.

Wausau Economic Development Manager Randy Fifrick termed one-year occupancy provision the most crucial of the restrictions in the agreement. In that situation, the city would reimburse the developer for expenses incurred making improvements on the property.

The deed also restrictions list what those improvements can be. The “structure improvements are limited to the repairs and improvements of the roof, electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the building.” The 0.89-acre parcel, on 180 East Wausau Ave., is the smaller of the two representing the former Wausau Chemical buildings and includes a 14,000-square-foot building.

The developer is required to share any modification requests from the original proposal within a year of the property transfer. “All site improvements shall be completed within 6 months from the time of issuance of a building occupancy permit and zoning certification of compliance,” the document said.

The provisions will safeguard the city’s interest, Fifrick said.

“We are encompassing what they are proposing actually comes to fruition,” he said.

Last month during a City Council meeting a number of city alders objected to the property’s ‘low’ price tag and also expressed concern that the developer could abandon the development project and just sell the property to someone else to turn a profit. There was also some debate about the actual value of the parcel with the building. Marathon County records show an assessed land value of the property in 2019 at $37,500. The total value assessed in 2019, including the building, was $382,000 with a fair market value of $416,900 – when the property owner paid more than $10,000 in annual taxes. But the assessment and fair market value was later listed at $0, after Wausau Chemical moved to a new location.

Asch Properties said they plan to invest $250,000 on improvements on the property.

Fifrick assured the council that the city would impose certain conditions for the redevelopment. “There will be some provisions that they just can’t flip it to the next person within the next day,” Fifrick told them at the City Council meeting on June 14.

The proposed business, ‘Infused’, will “procure and supply produce, beverages, crafted oils, syrups, bitters and garnishes in an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sustainable space.” The space will be open to the public and available for private use, according to the project plan.