Anchor away

(First published in the November 29, 2018 issue of City Pages)

The former Younkers space at Wausau Center will become HOM Furniture, meaning the mall has a large anchor store once again


The lights are on and work is underway on building HOM Furniture in the Wausau Center mall

Work began over Thanksgiving weekend on a new anchor store in the Wausau Center mall. The vacant wing that for decades held Younkers will undergo light remodeling to create the HOM Furniture store, says mall manager Kirk Kamke.

Mall staff learned the news just prior to the weekend; the wing is a separate building owned by a trust based in California, and unrelated to Rialto, which owns the rest of the mall. HOM is targeting a March 2019 opening, Kamke says.

News that HOM Furniture planned to buy the former Younkers building surfaced in October, because the mall’s lease required the city to sign off on HOM’s offer to purchase. City Council President Lisa Rasmussen at the time called it a needed win for the city. But there was no formal announcement that HOM had finalized the purchase, only clues last week when workers and signs were spotted in the space.

HOM Furniture was one of the contenders for redeveloping the vacant Sears building wing, which the city bought for $650,000 in 2016. The city instead awarded the project to Micon Cinemas in a deal that later fell through.

City officials at the time said they were still working with HOM to find the company another space within the city but offered few details. Many speculated Younkers as a potential site.

Signs outside the Younkers space says “Future home of HOM Furniture,” and the previously dark building has been lit with workers inside of it.

Younkers was one of three original department store anchors of Wausau Center Mall since it opened in 1983, and the last to remain open. Younkers closed in early 2018; Sears closed in 2016; and JCPenney closed in 2014. The wings formerly occupied by Sears and JCPenney remain vacant.