Scott Street block housing?

(First published in the December 12, 2019 issue of City Pages)

A Madison developer wants to develop 360+ apartments on two blocks along downtown Wausau’s Scott Street


Merge: Merge Urban Development is expected to reveal plans for a two-block apartment development in the downtown area, addressing a missing demographic of people living downtown.

A Madison-based developer will present plans next month for a new housing complex on the empty lot on Scott Street—the block that once housed the famed Scott Street Steak and Pub, but for the past several years has been nothing but a parking lot.

Documents obtained by City Pages show the project, which includes two city blocks, would be built in two phases, according to the proposal put together by Merge Urban Development Group. The first phase would include a five-story, 172,800-square foot building, 198 dwelling units and space for commercial retail and a restaurant, the proposal shows.

The second phase, built on the McClellan Street side, would replace the parking ramp to make way for a 160,950 square foot, five story building with 166 units. That building would include space for co-working and a lobby, as well as more commercial space. That includes “micro” retail spaces aimed at local entrepreneurs.

Merge has been working with the city for about a year to develop that block.

The apartments will come in wide variety, according to the proposal, with everything from micro units to large two-bedroom apartments. The Scott Street building includes a center courtyard area with private parking and the McClellan Street building includes parking in the center of the building, along with green space.

The first building would replace what is now a parking lot along Scott Street, which just received a parking kiosk station, and second would replace the empty block north of it, along with replacing the McClellan Street parking ramp.

Both buildings feature a modern design not commonly found in Wausau. Adding more housing to the downtown was a recommendation of consultants hired by the city to study the “towers area,” which encompasses the west side of the downtown.

The price range listed in the proposal is $900-$1,200, and the project is aimed at Millennials and empty nesters, according to the project description. The commercial units, the proposal states, is aimed at local entrepreneurs.

Total cost of the project was not included in the proposal, nor were any potential city incentives.

Merge had approached city leaders earlier this year with a potential plan, and were granted permission to study the property for potential development. Merge focuses on Opportunity Zone projects, a program created under the Trump Administration to provide incentives to areas in need. Merge is building a similar project in Stevens Point, on the former Lullabye Furniture Company site, which sat vacant for more than a decade. 

Wausau Community Development Director Christian Schock told City Pages that Merge is still refining its proposal and plans to present to city leaders in January.