Damakant Jayshi

Members of Wausau’s Economic Development Committee on Tuesday voted to approve a $45 million housing project in the north zone of the Riverlife District, one of two proposals received in the latest round of requests.

The project, from Mosinee-based S.C. Swiderski, LLC, relies on about $6.75 million in taxpayer incentives, representing 15 percent of the overall cost, through tax increment financing, though negotiations are not complete. Swiderski is offering $400,000 to purchase the land from the city.

Swiderski proposes The Sterling, a seven-story multi-family building with 200 units comprising studios, studio suites, one- and two-bedroom units and four penthouses. The proposal includes 345 parking spots – with 324 combined interior parking spaces and 21 on a surface lot, with a separate parking ramp structure. In addition to living space, the Sterling would feature two ground-level commercial retail spaces and amenities such as a yoga room, fitness center, community spaces, patio and grilling areas and a rooftop terrace, among other aspects.

In May, Wausau issued a request for proposals to redevelop the property after plans from a previous developer, T. Wall Enterprises, fell through. The City Council nixed the development plan in March. The lots fall in tax incremental districts No. 3 and No. 12. Swiderski is seeking TIF funding that begins when the project begins generating taxes. During the discussion, Swiderski representatives said they are open to negotiating the price tag and said rent prices will be determined by prevailing market rates.

Exterior rendering of The Sterling from S.C. Swiderski, LLC. Source: City of Wausau

The Economic Development Committee went into closed session after a presentation from Swiderski and a combined bid from KG Development Group and J. Jeffers & Company.

KG and Jeffers proposed two four-story, mixed-use buildings with 156 rental units and a 16-unit townhouse. But the developers sought more than $27 million from Wausau: a TIF loan of more than $9 million and an additional funding of over $18 million, almost half of the total cost of the proposed $54 million project, while offering $500,000 to purchase the property.

Committee Vice-Chair Chad Henke, along with members Lisa Rasmussen and Carol Lukens, voted in favor of the Swiderski plan. Alder Tom Kilian, who represents Dist. 3, voted no. Chair of the committee, Sarah Watson, was not present at the meeting.

The final plan, developed by the city’s staff and the company, is subject to approval by the 11-member City Council. Tuesday’s decision opens doors for further negotiations with the selected developer. Notably, the property is part of a Superfund site that is currently going through environmental cleanup due to past groundwater contamination, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Tuesday, an item was pulled from the agenda again. This one related to an amendment for the Riverlife Condos Development Agreement. Development Director Liz Brodek said a draft of the amendment was not ready to share. Early last month, Brodek requested pulling a discussion on a redevelopment project from the agenda, citing unavailability of legal counsel.