Damakant Jayshi

Citing frequent agreement changes and delays, Wausau’s Economic Development Committee on Tuesday voted to terminate a proposed $5 million condominium development project for the city’s east riverfront.

The five-member committee’s decision was unanimous, made during a closed session and announced after the group reconvened. The matter now goes to the City Council next week for a final decision.

Given the makeup of the Economic Development Committee, the 11-member City Council is likely to endorse the decision and put an end to the high-end condos project that saw several changes.

The committee’s decision comes after Mitch Viegut of Riverlife Condos, LLC was issued a letter of default on Nov. 2, giving the developer a 30-day curing window. That deadline ended on Dec. 2, with Riverlife Condos, LLC failing to address the default, Wausau Economic Development Manager Randy Fifrick told the committee members on Tuesday.

In the Nov. 2 letter Quarles & Brady, LLP, a law firm contracted by the city, told the developer that the project was at risk of termination. The letter is attached on page 92 of the meeting packet.

Wausau Pilot & Review reported on Friday the likelihood of the project being axed by the city. The high-end condos were to be constructed by the same group that constructed the Riverlife Villages Phase I development. The condo project is set for a parcel just south of the previously-completed apartment complex and included $485,0000 in tax increment financing.

The project had already seen three amendments, the last of those coming in August. The proposed development project also saw significant changes and the number of units were reduced, two of the reasons cited by a committee member who explained the decision in the open session.

Alder Lisa Rasmussen expressed disappointment with the developer, saying the project was sold to them on at least two platforms: one, the developers were local; second, there would be a certain number of units and an amphitheater. But first the amphitheater “disappeared” from the plan, she said, adding it was followed by two iterations of the agreement and more delays during which the number of units became “fewer and fewer.”

Plans for the amphitheater were nixed after a water main discovery led to an 18-month delay on the project, as Wausau Pilot & Review previously reported.

In September 2021, City Planner Brad Lenz said Wausau “has always been aware of the water main,” though none was mentioned in the request for proposals on the property or in early plans for the site included in city meeting packets. At that time he disputed the claim that the amphitheater was in jeopardy, and Economic Development Director Liz Brodek declined to provide a development agreement because the document was in the hands of the developer’s attorney. Sources close to the project said the discovery took the development team by surprise.

Water main issues aside, Rasmussen also said there was “radio silence” from the developer on the city’s outreach regarding the default.

“I am over it,” the Dist. 7 alder said. “We need to be done with this… We’ve lost faith that this can be done in a timely manner.”

Rasmussen said the city wanted to work with the developer to complete the project but has other options since the area is highly sought-after.