Downtown Wausau Dining Week Restaurants say slow start on Monday won't affect overall success

By:  Emily Boyer at WSAW

 Participating Wausau Dining Week Restaurants took a hit on Monday during the kick off of the event when a major snow storm forced people to spend their day digging out rather than eating out.

Blake Opal-Wahokse said the storm did cause a lot of people to stay home and took a toll on profits for the day, but added that Monday was the best day it could have happened.

"Whenever we have a snow storm, things downtown slow down a little. But now that the weather has slowed down, business is picking up. Most people tend to come out on the weekends anyway and some restaurants are closed on Monday."

Now restaurants are preparing for a busy weekend. Opal-Wahokse said there is something for everyone-- even those who would rather enjoy their meal from home.

"If you don't have time to sit around at a restaurant for dinner, we do have a lovely option over at La Prima Deli where you can pick-up your entrees to-go, and then take them home and cook them at your own house"

There's still time to take advantage of the three-course meal options-- which comes at a discounted price. Downtown Wausau Dining Week ends on Friday the 20th after businesses close. For more information you can watch the videos at the top of this web page.

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Wausau Downtown Dining Week Returns on Monday


By Logan Wenger at WSAU

Downtown Wausau Dining Week is set to begin on Monday, April 16th. 

Blake Opal-Wahoske, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, explains what exactly will be going on during the event.

"Downtown Wausau Dining week is Wausau's favorite feast featuring three fixed course prices at a set price at ten of our downtown eateries," he said.

Opal-Wahoske also says this event has a great economic impact on the downtown area.

"By exposing people to new businesses, I think that benefits our downtown exponentially," Opal-Wahoske said. "But then, also, just the drum of economic impact this event has on our downtown is exponential."

Participating eateries will have a lunch menu ranging in price from $7-$15 and a dinner menu ranging from $12-$35.

The restaurants participating is this year's Downtown Wausau Dining Week are 319 Bistro, Back When Cafe, City Grill, Daly's, La Prima, J. Mumbo's, Jalapeno', Malarkey's/Townie's, Polito's, and Peking Restaurant. 

Those restaurants will also be serving their regular menu throughout the week and reservations usually aren't needed to attend. 

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Wausau's 'Spokeeasy' Pedal Pub open for business

By Stacia Kulakowski at WSAW

Their motto is, 'You don't exactly know what it is, but you know you want to try it," and that's exactly what many in the area are doing with the new 'Spokeeasy' Pedal Pub.

The 'Spokeeasy' is an eco-friendly, pedal-powered trolley that is used to make pub crawls throughout the Wausau area.

The bicycle can fit up to 14 people at a time, who all have to pedal in order to make the trolley move.

The rules are that riders have to bring their own beer, not glass or liquor, and have fun!

The pedal pub has two different routes that riders can choose from ranging from downtown Wausau to the riverfront area.

If you have a special occasion coming up, or would just like to give the bike a try, 

Watch the full story by clicking here.

Terradea Salon in downtown Wausau prepares to move, with help from city loan


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 Terradea Salon will soon have a new home in downtown Wausau, but it won't move far. 

The salon, which is housed at 608 Third St., will jump to 614 Third St. in about a month, said co-owners Kelly McCarthy and Josh Hayes. The two have been renting Terradea's current space for about nine years but were ready for a more permanent location when the former Arts, Books & Banter building went up for sale last year, McCarthy said. 

"It was spur of the moment," she said. 

The sale went through in November, and since then, Hayes and McCarthy have been refurbishing the building to make it into a trendy salon, doing most of the work themselves. Admirers of the outside Tudor-style architecture need not worry. They plan to maintain the outside of the building, while they update windows and repair the roof. 

"It's a beautiful building," McCarthy said. "We love the downtown and feel lucky to own this building." 

The team will be helped in their renovation by a $76,000 commercial rehabilitation loan from the city. The Wausau Economic Development Committee voted Tuesday to give the loan to the salon owners to help them replace old electrical wiring within the building, as well as repair the outside. 

Once the salon makes the move, there will be a few changes to Terradea. There won't be as many spa services as the business now offers; instead the team and the business will focus mostly on hair, McCarthy said. Terradea also will upgrade its tools and equipment, including new massage chairs for customers to sit in while their hair is washed.

Terradea will remain an Aveda concept salon, however, meaning it will offer Aveda products for sale and use them during haircuts and styles, she said. 

Hayes and McCarthy told the Economic Development Committee that once the remodeling is finished and the salon is open in its new site, they intend to update the second level of the building to create a high-end apartment with an open concept floor plan available for rent. 

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Exhibitour wine, art event to return to downtown Wausau in October


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Get your traveling wine glasses ready, because Exhibitour is returning to downtown Wausau this fall. 

Exhibitour, which hasn't happened in downtown Wausau since 2012, is an event that opens up local downtown businesses as art galleries and allows participants to roam between them while enjoying wine on the walk. The event will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5.

The event was originally put on hold in early 2013 because the event was in violation of several state statutes regarding alcohol and sales during events. But in 2016, those rules were changed, making it legal for stores to serve wine during a "wine walk" event during a set number of hours. The legislation made it possible to issue up to 20 wine-only licenses to participating stores, making it legal for them to serve wine. Legislation also changed to allow stores to sell items while the wine walk is ongoing. 

Exhibitour was started in 2005 by Tom Neal. Neal and his wife, Jane Neal, had recently moved to Wausau from Fort Worth, Texas, where they had lived in an arts district and enjoyed frequent art outings that often included browsing different galleries with glasses of wine. So he reached out to Wausau Events and the Wausau River District and brought the idea to life. Each year that Exhibitour was held, it drew thousands of participants, according to Neal. 

There will be changes to the reboot of the event this October, though the premise will stay the same. Attendees will have to pay for a wristband to be able to participate, though there isn't a set price yet, said Blake Opal-Wahoske, the interim executive director of the Wausau River District. And there may be a cap to how many attendees can participate, but organizers aren't sure about that factor yet. 

Other than that, participants will be able to see art mostly from local artists, placed in shops throughout the downtown, which will also offer wine and snacks. Neal said the event will help get new customers into downtown stores to enjoy not only wine and art, but the goods and services the shops offer. 

"It's a good way to start building your customer base," he said. "It's about networking and getting people into stores that have never been in before." 

Opal-Wahoske said that Exhibitour is an event that people have requested make a comeback in downtown, and he's happy that the River District can be a part of it. 

"There's always been interest," he said. "There's always been a need an a want to bring this back." 

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First Presbyterian Church plans to set up free health clinic in downtown Wausau


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A new free medical clinic for those who can't afford health care may be coming to downtown Wausau.

The First Presbyterian Church, 406 Grant St., has proposed a free clinic in a portion of its basement, according to documents submitted to the city. The clinic would offer primary care services to uninsured and under-insured low-income residents in the area, especially the homeless. The clinic is the brainchild of Dr. Jeffrey Oswald, a family practitioner with the Marshfield Clinic. 

Oswald, who practices at Wausau's Stettin Center, said that after years of volunteering at The Salvation Army warming center, he felt moved to open a free clinic, a resource that the community didn't have. 

"Some people just weren't getting access to care," he said. 

Oswald began talking with The Salvation Army about using some of its space for a clinic, but there wasn't enough room in the building. That's when he turned to the community for ideas, and someone suggested the First Presbyterian Church in downtown. 

"They were enthusiastic about it from the start, and they had the space," he said. "It was never a question of whether they were going to do it." 

Since then, Oswald has been working closely with Jeff Todd and Chuck Schlitz, who are elders of the church, to finalize planning and find the perfect location in the church's large building. Though the clinic will be located in the church, patients will not be required to be a member of the church or subscribe to the beliefs of the church, Oswald said. 

The group settled on a portion of the basement, which has enough space for four exam rooms, a waiting room, large restrooms and storage, among other rooms necessary for a medical clinic, said Todd. 

"The church has been looking for a use for the space," he said. "We were more than happy to jump on board." 

Over the past several months, the team has been researching free clinics, talking with other professionals in the area and drawing up plans. The church has approval from the city for the clinic, but there's no set date as to when construction would begin or end. The team will have to raise money for construction and costs. 

Initially, according to the proposal, the clinic would offer acute treatment, meaning that patients would be treated for colds, the flu and minor injuries. According to plans, the clinic would operate two afternoons per month, from 2 to 6 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays, and the staff would be volunteer-only, Todd said. 

According to the proposal, the Marshfield Health System, Ascension Wisconsin North Central Region and the Marathon County Health Department have indicated their support for the clinic. 

Oswald said that the free clinic won't work against any of the other resources already available in the community, such as the Bridge Community Health Clinic or North Central Health Care. 

"We're really not trying to duplicate anything," he said. "We really want to collaborate." 

According to Katherine Gaulke, the executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, there are 90 clinics throughout the state that offer free services to communities, covering 60 counties. She said she's excited to see the potential addition of a clinic in Wausau. Although Bridge Clinic offers services to those with Medicaid in the city, there is still a gap of people who are unable to afford their own insurance but are above the threshold for help or might be waiting for health insurance to start after a waiting period at a new job, she said. 

"Folks who don't have access anywhere else will get help," she said. "It will save individuals thousands (of dollars) and save the health system and the community thousands." 

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Wine Walks may return to Wausau


By:  Michael Leischner at WSAU

The once-popular Wine Walks may soon become a staple of downtown Wausau once again.

The city Public Health and Safety Committee moved an ordinance on to the full council during their meeting Monday. The proposal cleans up language in a current city ordinance that would call for for special licenses to be granted allowing intoxicants to be consumed in a public right of way.

Committee chair and Council President Lisa Rasmussen said that when the city had previously allowed the wine walks, they were actually breaking state laws. "Other communities would call and say 'how is Wausau getting away with this?' Come to find out we were in violation. We never should have been giving those waivers in the first place."

The wine walks originally operated in the early 2000's but were stopped after the discrepancy with state law was discovered. Rasmussen said the city actually worked with the state to clean up the law that would allow for operators to bring the events back. "Communities are now able to grant event licenses specifically for wine walks. [It] creates an exception that allows those beverages to traverse the right-of-way."

Rasmussen said organizers were actually trying to put together an event in 2017 but couldn't make it happen. She says now that the legal red tape is cleared up it could come back this year if organizers can make it happen. "It was not a bad event, it just ran counter to state law."

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Elizabeth Brodek leaves Wausau River District after years of downtown revitalization


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

She brought a little more color, fun and excitement to downtown Wausau over the past three years, but Elizabeth Brodek's time in the city is coming to an end. 

Brodek, executive director of the Wausau River District, will leave her position on March 9 to become promotions and communications coordinator for the city of Eau Claire. Blake Opal-Wahoske, who is currently the assistant director will serve as interim director while the River District board looks for someone to fill the spot according to a press release from the organization.

The Wausau River District is a nonprofit organization that advocates for downtown businesses and organizations that make Wausau an appealing place to live in. The organization also helps to plan events highlighting the downtown area and all it has to offer. It's partially privately funded, and partially funded by the Business Improvement District. 

The board expects to hire a new director within 30 days, said president Joseph Mella.

"We're going to carry on the initiatives that have been implemented," Mella said. "But we're looking forward to the next chapter for the River District." 

Brodek started at the River District in December 2014, working to bring downtown businesses together and to plan events that bring the community into the central shopping district. The Wausau Daily Herald and United Way of Marathon County named Brodek one of their top "20 Under 40' honorees, and the Daily Herald identified her as a Person of the Year in 2017.

Her work in Wausau also has been honored by the National Main Street organization, which has nominated the community multiple times for its Great American Main Street Award. 

During her time as director, the Wausau River District has added programs such as First Thursdays, which brings visitors downtown for an evening of food and entertainment the first Thursday of each month during the summer; Downtown Dining Week, which creates a price-fixed menu at downtown restaurants so customers can sample different dishes; and Jazz on the River, which brought local jazz musicians to a new stage behind the Marathon County Public Library on Sundays last summer.

Brodek also helped to spearhead, along with Glass Hat tavern owner Gisy Marks, a competition that resulted in 18 murals painted on the city's north side, brightening a neighborhood that hadn't received much attention in recent years. 

Brodek, a native of Racine, said there are a lot of things she'll miss about the Wausau community, including the people she met and especially the outdoor recreation, like running at Fern Island. 

"There's a lot that I got to know and love," she said. 

She said the River District will be in good hands as the organization's board searches for her replacement. 

"Blake is going to bring new ideas in, and I couldn't be happier to hand the reins to him," she said. 

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Whitewater Park upgrades will bring global competition back to Wausau, committee hopes

By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The committee behind the improvements to the Whitewater Park course is aiming to bring world-class kayaking talent back to the city by moving forward with the next phase of construction. 

The Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corp. is hoping to host another World Cup or Junior World Championship when the competition returns to the U.S. in 2022, according to a Thursday news release. 

The last time an international competition was held at the course was in 2012, when the International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships were held in the park. The competition brought hundreds of athletes and thousands of spectators from all over the world to Wausau and about $1.8 million in economic effect. 

The first phase of the improvements was completed last summer, adding updated walkways to both sides of the course, updated landscaping, improved seating, increased safety for boaters and access ramps for disabled boaters, the release said. 

Now the corporation is looking toward the second phase of construction, which will repair and upgrade water features that have deteriorated from years of erosion, movement and flooding. The release said that these improvements are necessary for high levels of performance, and will likely cost over $186,000. The Corporation hasn't yet released a date for the beginning of phase two.

After the second phase can be completed, the corporation will look to phase three, which will entail the addition of a pedestrian bridge, linking the trails along the east and west sides of the whitewater course, the release said. The total cost of the years-long project is estimated to be about $1 million, which is raised by the organization. 

The committee hopes that the improvements will help to keep the course competitive with others throughout the world, making Wausau a destination for kayakers, and in turn, attracting tourism impact dollars to the community, the release said. 

Whitewater Park opened in 1974 in downtown Wausau, and starts underneath the Stewart Street bridge. The course is about a third of a mile long and is used by paddlers during competitions and for recreation during the summer months. 

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Streetwise: Sweets on 3rd, Evolutions in Design among shops to check out for your Valentine


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

It's the time of year to send a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates to the love in your life. 

That's right — the romantic holiday is Wednesday, which means it's probably time to get your holiday shopping done. Whether you want flowers and chocolates or something a little out of the ordinary, these local shops have all the bases covered for you. 

Krueger Floral and Gift, 5240 Business 51

Looking for the perfect batch of roses delivered right to the door? Check out Krueger Floral's selection. Every year, said manager Beth Eiden, the store orders thousands of roses to keep up with the demand. 

If flowers aren't what your Valentine desires, check out the selection of plants, chocolates, stuffed animals, balloons and candles as well. And good news, last minute shoppers — the store has extended hours this weekend and up until Valentine's Day. Make sure to check out its website,, for hours or to place your order at any time of the day or night. 

Delivery is available from the store to the Wausau metro area, as well as Mosinee. And if you select to have your bouquet delivered before the holiday, you and your Valentine will be entered to win a $100 gift card to Best Buy. 

Sweets on 3rd, 615 Third St.

If your Valentine has a sweet tooth, make sure to check out Wausau's downtown candy shop. The most popular items this time of year, said owner Valerie Charneski, are the truffles, which can be found neatly lined up on display shelves in the store. The truffles can be ordered one by one, or in a box of up to 32 pieces, depending on how chocolatey you want the day to be.

And for those who may not be able to deliver gifts themselves — 715 Delivery will pick up the sweets for them and take them right to your Valentine for you. 

If your Valentine is more into other types of candy, though, don't despair. There are plenty of gummies, hard candies, and more. You can even put a bow on the Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, which can be sold in pints. There are also coffee and tea sets that allow you to make the perfect cup in the comfort of your own home, Charneski said.

For more information, visit the Sweets on 3rd Facebook page

Evolutions in Design, 626 Third St.

Though roses might be conventionally the most popular flower on Valentine's Day, Evolutions in Design owner Randy Verhasselt encourages shoppers to think a little outside the box this year. 

Evolutions offers a wide selection of colorful, tropical flowers that can be mixed into an arrangement selected from the store's flower menu, or an arrangement designed by the shopper themselves. Pretty much every arrangement made at the store is unique, though, so you don't have to worry about purchasing the same bouquet as everyone else. 

And if you want to send another gift item along with the bouquet, there's an option to do that. Verhasselt said that they've delivered plants, jewelry, bath and body items and other trinkets that can be found in the store. Some customers even bring in candy purchased from Sweets on 3rd across the street to send with the flowers. 

Verhasselt said the store will be able to deliver flowers to the Wausau, Marathon City and Mosinee areas Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday delivery will be confined to Wausau, Schofield and Weston because of the volume of deliveries and how long they take. 

For more information on Evolutions in Design and its Valentine's Day offerings, visit

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City leaders hear update on Wausau Center Mall


By:  By Courtney Terlecki at WAOW

Nearly a week after the last department store announced it was leaving the Wausau Center Mall, city leaders were given an update on the mall.

The planning, community and economic development director Christian Schock told the economic and development committee that the city is in constant contact with the mall owners, managers and the owners of Younkers.

"The city continues to encourage the lender/owner to move forward with listing the mall," said Schock. "If there's any positive lining in the situation, it's that with the departure of Younkers it would hasten or move faster the redevelopment opportunities."

Schock said he hopes there are developments in the coming weeks and says that he'll continue to update the committee monthly.

As for downtown businesses, Elizabeth Brodek with the Wausau River District said she doesn't think losing Younkers will have a big impact on the stores.

"Downtown as a whole is incredibly strong," said Brodek.

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Heart of Wausau project off to positive start

By Curtis Aderholdt with WAOW

Customers can show their love for Wausau with a simple heart.
It's called the Heart of Wausau project, an idea originally pitched by the owner of Polito's Pizza.
Downtown business patrons can donate a dollar for a cutout heart and write what they love about Wausau on it.
The businesses then put the hearts on display.
River District leaders said it's a fun way to support downtown.

"The whole idea is that hopefully you walk through the river district throughout the month of February and you really just feel the love," said Elizabeth Brodek, Executive Director of the Wausau River District. "You know, you feel that Valentine to Wausau from the heart of Wausau."

Dozens of hearts are already on display at various businesses in the area. Brodek said that some businesses have already run out of hearts, prompting the Wausau River District to order thousands more.
Each dollar donated goes to the Wausau River District.
The hearts will be available throughout February.

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Spreading the love with the 'Heart of Wausau'


By:  WSAW Staff

Valentines Day is just around the corner which means sharing the love through written words.

To tell us how residents can share their love for the city of Wausau, Elizabeth Brodek from the Wausau River District joined the Sunrise 7 team.

Starting on February 1st, residents will be able to purchase heart valentines from participating business in downtown Wausau to share what they love about the area.

It's a Valentine from Wausau to Wausau!

Each valentine costs $1 and will be hung for display by the business. 
A complete list of participating business will be announced the River District's Facebook page.

The money raised will go to support programs and research projects conducted by the Wausau River District.

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Mild winter weather draws thousands to downtown Wausau for 2018 Winter Fest


By:  Kevin Carr at WSAW

Mild temperatures, lots of sunshine and plenty of activities brought thousands out for Wausau's 7th annual Winter Fest.

Once per year in late January, families like the Boehnens help turn the 400 Block into a popular destination teeming with thousands of people.

"We have kids and it's a fun thing to get out when it has been really cold and really icy and stuff," Nathan Boehnen said.

Whether it's taking a slide down a sculpture carved out of snow, skating around the rink or taking a carriage ride, it's a way for kids and families to have fun - even if they aren't much of winter enthusiasts.

"It's nice to have something that's a little more middle ground for a family like us," Wendy Boehnen said.

"We definitely wanted to find something where we could bring people out of their houses in the winter when it's kind of a slow time," Wausau Events Executive Directpr Sara Hujar added.

There's also weight pulling, where dogs are capable of tugging thousands of pounds in the snow.

Steve Gatzow of Watertown says the sport is fun, and gives his huskies some extra exercise. But it's getting to meet families and their little ones that makes coming to Winter Fest more special.

I"'m a people person, and like to get out there and associate with people, especially children around," Gatzow explained.

Those that get cold can head inside where lively music and hot mac n' cheese help case some of the chill away. With good food, good music, and plenty of family activities, all in all, it's just a taste of why Winterfest continues to be a hit in the Wausau area.

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200 sculptures and counting; crew transforms snow pile in downtown Wausau


By: Erin Freiderich at WSAW

The final preparations for this year's Winter Fest snow slide are being completed in Wausau.

A team of carvers transformed a massive pile of snow into an impressive piece of art at Wausau's 400 Block.

Tom Queoff is the team's captain.

“We call ourselves Team USA. We've been together for 33 years. We've carved over 200 snow sculptures, maybe more. We've been in competitions all over the world and I guess we're going to keep carving for a few more years,” he said.

Carving began Wednesday and will finished Friday.

Not only will this be a fun sculpture to look at, it will also be free for kids to take a slide down as part of the Winter Fest festival.

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Streetwise: Compass eyeing vacant Sears, bistro a labor of love


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A downtown business is giving artists the chance to share their work with the community, and Compass Properties may be taking over the development of the vacant Sears space attached to Wausau Center mall. 

Streetwise is the Wausau Daily Herald's business news, keeping you updated on new stores, restaurants and other businesses you should know about. Each week we collect the local business news here to give you a quick rundown of what's happening in your community. 

At first glance, the building at 319 Fourth St. seems a little plain. 

It's a small, gray building, right across from the old Filmore theater building, with a sign hanging outside that reads "319 Gallery & Bistro." 

But inside, jewelry dangles from hangers, photos and paintings adorn the walls. In some places, sculptures take up floor space. It's a warm, inviting boutique selling handmade art. 

The 319 Galley and Bistro is the result of a dream three friends had more than five years ago. They wanted to offer a space for local artists to display their works, with an eye for art that might be excluded from other local galleries, giving more local artists the opportunity to show off their work to more than just friends and family. 

A prominent downtown developer has a proposal to redevelop the vacant Sears building in the Wausau Center mall. 

The Sears store closed in August 2016 and the city purchased the site later that year. In December 2016, the city OKed a plan by Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas to put a movie theater in the spot, but those plans fell apart in 2017 after Micon and the mall owner Rialto Capital Management did not reach an agreement relating to a the wall the mall shares with the store. That left the city seeking to regroup and find a new way forward, either for the theater or another developer. 

On Jan. 18, the city's Economic Development Committee spent more than an hour in closed session before emerging to announce interest in the space from Compass Properties, the downtown landlord and developer of The Palladian condiminiums and other projects. City officials declined to discuss what Compass's proposal entailed and whether Micon Cinemas would still be involved with a new proposal.

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Downtown developer Compass Properties shows interest in vacant Sears space


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 A prominent downtown developer has a proposal to redevelop the vacant Sears building in the Wausau Center mall. 

The Sears store closed in August 2016 and the city purchased the site later that year. In December 2016, the city OKed a plan by Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas to put a movie theater in the spot, but those plans fell apart in 2017 after Micon and mall owner Rialto Capital Management did not reach an agreement relating to the wall the mall shares with the store. That left the city seeking to regroup and find a new way forward, either for the theater or another developer.

On Thursday night, the city's Economic Development Committee spent more than an hour in closed session before emerging to announce interest in the space from Compass Properties, the downtown landlord and developer of The Palladian condominiums and other projects. City officials declined to discuss what Compass's proposal entailed and whether Micon Cinemas would still be involved with a new proposal. 

Micon Cinemas did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Compass Properties has a strong foothold in the downtown area and owns of many Third Street's storefront buildings. Recently, Compass purchased the H.T. Cobblery building on the corner of Jefferson Street and Third Street, with plans to turn it into a multi-level apartment building with retail space on the first floor. 

Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke said after Thursday's meeting that the idea for the development of the Sears property is still in its early stages, and there are still details to work out. 

"There will be a possible theater discussion," he said. "But it's too early to say." 

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Future of Sears Building to be revisited



The former Sears building in Downtown Wausau could have another life as a movie theater after all.

The Economic Development Committee will meet Thursday night to discuss the latest proposal to for the space, which is owned by the city.

City Economic Development Director Chris Schock talked about the matter last Tuesday during the regular city council meeting, saying there had been positive momentum from the owners of the Wausau Center Mall, MICON, and “the potential developers who are interested.”

Thursday's meeting will be in closed session. According to the agenda the committee will have “Discussion and possible action on redevelopment options related to a proposed cinema theater and developer partners.”

According to the agenda posting the closed session is for the purpose of negotiating the purchase of public properties, investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business. The committee will also discuss phase 2 of the Wausau marketing and awareness project in closed session.

Original plans called for Eau Clare based MICON Cinemas to build a ten screen theater in the space. The city owns the land the Sears building sits on, however Center Mall management still has a say in the matter because the buildings share a wall.

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I work on YPWeek events because they helped build my connection to Wisconsin

By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

In the meeting, I sat completely still, staring at the little, colorful pieces of paper that hung in lines on the wall of the YWCA Wausau building in downtown.

Each paper carried the name of a possible event and the name of a young professional who will be in charge of overseeing it, making sure it goes off without a hitch during YPWeek at the end of April. We have about 12 weeks to pull it off.

I couldn't help but be overwhelmed. I was part of the group that planned 16 events during the 2017 YPWeek in Wausau, and I thought that was a lot of work. There were a lot more than 16 little colored papers hanging on the wall now. But as I listened to the planners who came up with these events chatter behind me, that feeling was replaced with feelings of optimism, of pride in our community and excitement to start planning the best YPWeek Wausau has ever seen. 

I know there are others across the state that are currently doing the same thing. I have friends in Milwaukee planning events. There are people in Madison bringing together different groups of young professionals to make a cohesive movement. On the shores of Lake Superior, several city and county groups are preparing to join the movement for the first time this April. It's not just Wausau on this boat. 

YPWeek is a week of planning and programming for young professionals (hence the Y and P) that usually populates the final week of April. The movement was started in 2012 in Milwaukee by the company Newaukee, which aims to change the ways that people connect with each other and their city. It started spreading to other communities in 2015. The goal was to provide a "week-long series of events focused on discovery, adventure and meaningful conversations about the issues that matter to young professionals," according to a post from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which helps to sponsor the week

I got involved with YPWeek last year. I helped to co-chair the week for Wausau, overseeing the planners and the events that they put together in our community. It required some long days, some missed sleep and the carrying of boxes of T-shirts up a lot of stairs. I think I slept for like a day and a half after it was over. 

Why would I want to put myself through that again? Because YPWeek is a big reason I'm still in Wisconsin. When I moved here nearly two years ago, I didn't know anyone and had almost no connection to Wausau other than my job. I spent the first months of my time here at home, watching Netflix and planning my move out of Wisconsin. But thankfully, a friend encouraged me to get involved with YPWeek, and more broadly with the community, and here I still am. 

So why put myself through this again? Not only was YPWeek fun, but I also made connections. I started to see the highlights of the community, and all the challenges to be conquered.

David Harris and Lucy-Ann Muabe socialize during the Young Professionals of Manitowoc County Sip, Sample and Socialize event at the Artist's Lofts Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017, in Manitowoc. (Photo: Josh Clark/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

And I'm still involved with YPWeek, and all the work it entails, because I truly believe that it's accomplishing something in Wisconsin. It's giving young professionals a sense of Wisconsin as a place, connecting them to their communities, to a larger statewide network and to friends, which, let's face it, are pretty important to being happy. 

Young people are the next generation of workers, taking leadership roles and making decisions. It's pretty cool to see an investment in those people, a chance to make their voices heard and their creativity seen. 

Those colorful pieces of paper hanging on the wall at the YWCA represent more than just events and the work to come. They represent someone's desire to make our community more welcoming, more fun and passionate. 

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Martin Luther King Jr. dinner highlights efforts to improve unity in Wausau


By:  Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Members of the Wausau community came together Monday night to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 

About 130 people gathered at the YWCA Wausau in downtown to celebrate the memory of the man who worked to create a more unified country, while sharing pieces of different cultures in the community. 

The evening started with a dinner of comfort foods such as mac and cheese, vegetables and fried chicken, and then members of the community spoke about issues of equality when it comes to race. After the speakers, the band Unified Soul played music while attendees danced.

It's an event that's been happening in the community for about five years, said organizer Kate Gaines of NAOMI, an organization that strives to eliminate inequality in the area. It was the first time that the dinner event was able to host so many people, she said. 

"This year we wanted to make this a community collaboration," Gaines said. 

NAOMI worked alongside People for the Power of Love, the YWCA Wausau, the Women's Community and the Unity Project to make the event a possibility. 

Gaines said the event was meant to showcase the art, music and passion of community members, and an opportunity to bring all people in the community together to remember the man with a strong message of peace and equality. 

"Martin Luther King Jr. has a legacy, and it's a mission that we still need to work on," Gaines said. "We need to continue the work." 

At the end of the event, Anahkwet, the Menominee Nation Organizer, stood to say a prayer, but first asked everyone to take the message of King into their everyday lives. 

"Yes, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "But the only way it gets done is together." 

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