Building boom

(First published in the May 2, 2019 issue of City Pages)

The past two years have seen record net new construction in Wausau


Some major projects are slated to begin — in some cases, finally begin — in Wausau this year. That comes on the heels of two record-breaking years in the city for net new construction. But the city fell behind Stevens Point and Marshfield by percentage, state records show.

Mayor Robert Mielke pointed out the construction boon in his third State of the City speech, which he has delivered every year since taking office in 2016.


Mayor Robert Mielke’s State of the City address highlighted Wausau’s record-setting 2018 building boom, which will continue in 2019 with projects like the YMCA’s expansion.

In his speech, Mielke touted many positives that have come through his administration, including a renewed focus on growing the city’s tax base and encouraging new construction. That led to back-to-back record-breaking years, he told gathered residents and reporters in the council chambers.

Wausau’s net new construction of $55.8 million in 2018 was a record for Wausau, representing 2% of its total equalized value in the city. That came despite the Riverlife development project collecting dust and a proposed movie theater in Sears failing to materialize.

Net new construction in Stevens Point — despite being a smaller city — was nearly equal Wausau’s at $50.2 million, and represented a higher percentage of 2.76% of its total equalized property value.

And Marshfield saw $33.5 million in net new construction, representing 2.45% of its total property value, also a higher percentage of its overall tax base.

Wisconsin Rapids saw $14.1 million in construction representing 1.39% of its tax base.

Wausau, Stevens Point and Marshfield are above average for the state. Wisconsin’s $8.5 billion in net new construction in 2018 represents 1.62% of its total equalized value for 2017.