Wausau hasn’t yet formally purchased the building, but are now accepting proposals to repurpose the former Sears building of the Wausau Center mall.

Mayor Robert Mielke says it’s a way to protect taxpayers and see that the Sears building is redeveloped as soon as possible. Officials are seeking proposals that will complement downtown Wausau while maximizing the property tax value of the land, he says.

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The city council met in closed session Tuesday before voting unanimously to issue the request for proposals. Sears occupied the 88,000 square foot space as an original anchor store of the mall until the company closed the location in August. Wausau’s finance committee recommended the city purchase the building for $700,000 in order to “hold” it for what’s deemed its best possible use. For weeks, rumors have been swirling that a movie theater company is eyeing the space. That will be either put to rest or confirmed when the redevelopment proposals, due Oct. 14, are made public.

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Before finalizing the purchase, the city is waiting for environmental testing on the site, which for decades included an auto service center. Auto repair shops can generate significant pollution that requires environmental cleanup, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Sears sale is subject to final council approval, which could happen as early as October.