Results of Wausau Riverfront Study Unveiled During Public Meeting

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The Wausau City Council got to see the preliminary design ideas for the new Riverfront District for the first time Tuesday night.

The Riverfront will be vibrant, according to the design firm that suggested middle-income condominiums, splash pads and WIFI parks for the area.

These ideas stem from a market study the designers did and presented.

The results showed Wausau is attracting younger families, and people in their early 20s to 30s, called the millennium generation, which is the demographic the project will aim toward.

"This is a downtown location," Wausau City Planner Brad Lenz said. "So we want it to be an active place and millenniums often offer that active lifestyle around the clock."

After the designers presented ideas, one council member suggested a hotel should be added to the plan as well.

Lenz said the council needs to approve a budget within the next couple months before they move forward to a final plan.

Updated at 4:16 Feb. 25, 2014

Tuesday night Wausau city planners will present the results of a market study of ways the public would like to see 15 acres of riverfront property to be developed.

The study is expected to reveal whether the property has more demand for residential or commercial development.

The vacant waterfront property is on the east side of the Wisconsin River, which stretches from the pedestrian bridge near the Wisconsin Eye Clinic to Bridge Street.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the city hall.

NewsChannel 7 will have a reporter at the meeting and will present the results of the study at and during NewsChannel 7 at 10 p.m.

ORIGINAL STORY: June 11, 2013

A desolate stretch of land lines the Wisconsin River in Wausau.

However, plans to bring the land back to life came to the surface Tuesday, with help from a Brownfield Grant.

"The city of Wausau has been selected to receive $400,000 in new grounds from EPA's Brownfield program," Susan Hedman, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said.

That money will go toward developing 15 acres of vacant waterfront property on the east side of the Wisconsin River, which stretches from the pedestrian bridge near the Wisconsin Eye Clinic to Bridge Street.

"We want it to be a vibrant place where people can live on the waterfront," Ann Werth, community development director, said. "They can play on the waterfront they can come down and dine on the waterfront and just take a stroll."

A vision for the property first came from Marathon County Development Corporation, when they bought the land for $2.4 million in 2010.

One of the hangups in the plan was actually the materials that was left in this land that which was petroleum, lead and chlorinated solvents.

"Cleaning up contaminated properties takes time and effort," Werth said. "We are working diligently to find where the contamination is, what we can do with it and we will develop our plans for the water front around that."

If you were to walk across the parking lot you'd find another building that has been developed thanks to Brownfield Grants.

The Wisconsin Eye Clinic Employee Keri Klonkle said she hopes certain amenities will be part of the plan.

"(I'm hoping for) just some really good food places, no more banks," Klonkle said. "We don't need any more of those. Just somewhere good to go for lunch would be nice. Something good like that."

The once dead stretch of land along the river will one day be alive with activity, and it will provide plenty of opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

"The river is awesome," Wausau Mayor James Tipple said. "It's one of our neglected resources and we're now going to capitalize on that now and in the future."

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