(First published in the March 26, 2020 issue of City Pages)
A new proposal for the former Wausau Chemical site would bring a beverage cannery, large event space, and kitchen to the riverfront
Rendering of a new business, Wausau Barrel House and Cannery, proposed for the old Wausau Chemical site
Dan Weber had the inkling of an idea about a project for the north Riverlife area, near Athletic Park, but wanted to see what projects came forward in the first round of proposals. After seeing proposals that included a new brewery, and hearing from other beverage makers about interest in a local canning operation, Weber decided he was on the right track.
Dan and Kimm Weber, the owners of Timekeeper Distillery, along with Lyn Kearns, owner of Mosinee Brewing Company, are proposing a project called Wausau Barrel House and Cannery for the former Wausau Chemical container wash building along the Wisconsin River at 180 E. Wausau Ave. The building would house a beverage cannery, an incubator kitchen, a new winery and an indoor/outdoor event venue, along with food truck stalls with outdoor seating. The site will help Weber store whiskey barrels for Timekeeper as well.
The large space could also host weddings, meetings, concerts, expos, markets and more, Weber says. Business are already interested in making use of the project and have signed letters of intent, Weber says.
The group is proposing to purchase the property for $40,000—slightly more than the land-only assessed value of $37,500 — and would repurpose the building on site. The group would partner with MCDEVCO, and Romey Wagner at the city’s Entrepreneurial and Education Center expressed his support. “This is one of the most exciting projects that’s been brought to the community of Wausau,” Wagner says. The entrepreneurial center helped launch both Timekeeper and Mosinee Brewing Co.
Kearns told the city’s economic development committee that there is a big demand for large wedding venues. Mosinee Brewing Company had been booked for months for large events and their space only holds 100. “There are very few spaces available for groups and weddings of 300 people,” Kearns said.
The project is expected to cost $1.5 million, Weber told the committee. The group isn’t asking for any tax incentives but is seeking a $350,000 commercial renovation loan for utilities and infrastructure costs.