Plan for Wausau Center could see changes, mall close in 2021


Sources say the selling price of Wausau Center mall is likely to be less than $5 million

A plan by Wausau Opportunity Zone to redevelop the mall could see the mall close in 2021, with the first redevelopment to follow.

The plan was presented by WOZ Managing Director Chuck Ghidorzi, who laid out the framework of the 4-5 year redevelopment plan at Wausau Economic and Development Committee meeting Tuesday.

The plan would see the mall divided into several smaller buildings, and many of the buildings would become mixed use with retail on the first floor and market rate residential on the subsequent floors. It would also call for a large office building on the west side of the mall property.

The city kicked in $1 million last year toward the project to help a pair of non-profit organizations buy the mall as Wausau Opportunity Zone fund, in order to make sure it stayed under local control, since a venture capital firm wanted to buy and gut Wausau Center. The group completed the sale earlier this year.

The plan calls for 80,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space and 458 residential units in the mall’s footprint. The plan is being designed to fit well with the traffic and building plans highlighted in various consultant reports, such as the Towers and South Riverfront area plans the city commissioned, as well as traffic plans delineated by Toole Design.

The plans include making Third Street more of an open plaza, extending the street all the way to HOM Furniture, and also call for a public market near where the JC Penney building is now.

Ghidorzi says the group wants to finalize the plan’s details before seeking a developer. The first part of the mall likely to be redeveloped would be east part of the Washington Street/Third Street  sections. That means the mall could close as early as first quarter 2021, Ghidorzi told City Pages. The mall would have to close completely once a redevelopment project starts, he says.