Downtown developer Compass Properties shows interest in vacant Sears space

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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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