Economic Development Committee extends RFP process for Riverfront land

Wausau riverlife development. 

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) — Wausau’s Economic Development Committee is continuing to consider proposals for the Riverlife development, including a recent offer for a dental clinic.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the committee discussed a proposal for the owners of Cherry Street Dental for a new office in the area, which would combine two of their other Wausau offices into a 6,100 square foot facility. No approval for the project was given, but the committee didn’t close the door completely on the idea for now.

“We’ve advised them that the specifics of their proposal can change. It could be improved in certain ways and refined to fit some of the aesthetic commentaries of the committee as well,” said Economic Development Director Chris Schock.

The committee ultimately decided to re-open an RFP process for the area to expire at the end of July. Schock says that doesn’t mean that Cherry Street Dental would be excluded from the area or can’t rework their proposal, the committee just wants to make sure that what goes in the area is a good fit.

“We understand that there is some need for office space in the area. It just has to be the right mix, the right building, and the right parking. It’s all those considerations, and a lot of them are urban-design related and we need to make sure they fit,” he added.

During the discussion on the matter, Alder Lisa Rasmussen noted that the committee has a right to be picky about what goes in the prime riverfront property because it is limited, while professional office space is available elsewhere throughout the city. Schock expanded on that by saying the city wants to make sure the right mix of uses goes in the area.

“The key is ensuring that we are balancing all those uses. We don’t necessarily want all office space, which doesn’t program the area in the evening. We don’t want it to be all entertainment, then have stakeholders and citizens who don’t really care about the neighborhood. That’s a component of housing. Each use kind of brings a different perspective.

“The city’s waterfront is going to be a sought-after commodity for housing, office, and entertainment,” he added.

Schock adds that the company’s interest in the area highlights the marketability of the Riverfront, which the city has been working for years to redevelop dating back to Robert Mielke’s term as Mayor.

According to Tuesday’s meeting packet, Cherry Street Dental was proposing to purchase the land from the city for $1, then build a $1.52 million facility at the site that could serve as many as 5,000 patients. The company is also requesting $200,000 in site prep assistance from the city.

Total project costs would be just over $2.2 million.