‘Foundry on 3rd’ completion date probably delayed until 2025
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The completion date for the multi-million dollar project ‘Foundry on 3rd’ will likely be delayed until 2025. Wausau Opportunity Zone’s vision, also known as WOZ, is to create 154 market-rate apartments and commercial spaces in the former Wausau Center Mall area.
Given previous delays, it’s no surprise that construction has yet to break ground. The original plan was to start construction by September 1 of this year, but it looks like that’ll be more like next year.
Wausau’s Economic Development Committee approved the new timeline on August 1, but the move requires full council approval. It’s likely that it’ll pass, but that doesn’t mean everyone from the committee agreed.
“There’s already been a tremendous amount of delay,” said Tom Kilian, Alderperson of Wausau District 3.
With the new timeline, construction would begin June 1, 2024. The completion deadline would move from December 2024 to November 2025. This delay comes because of increased construction material costs, escalating interest rates, and extended time investors require to make decisions.
“The economy is what it is. Nobody asked for this economy, but it’s what you get post-pandemic,” said Lisa Rasmussen, Alderperson of Wausau District 7.
In the August 1 meeting, Alderperson Kilian voiced his concerns. The first was that WOZ approved decisions without consulting the city.
These decisions revolve around contaminated soil present, and open, at a portion of the site. During mall demolition, a cement cap was left to cover the soil, during mall reconstruction, it was removed. The city had contracted a company to remove the contaminated soil, but a decision was made not to remove it.
Kilian asked Chuck Ghidorzi, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of WOZ, who made the decision to not have the soil removed.
“I did, and it was very simple. If we weren’t going to start a project, we weren’t going to put a hole in the middle of our downtown,” answered Ghidorzi.
By not removing the soil, there may be additional costs for the city.
“I mean, there are some consequences to breaking contract,” said Ghidorzi.
Contamination at the site consists not only of metals, but also from a group of compounds called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, according to Matt Thompson, a hydrogeologist at the Wisconsin DNR.
The site is being overseen by the DNR. Thompson said the site is safe because it’s fenced in, but developers should work with their environmental consultant to make sure a long-term protective solution is in place.
“Whether this project is as fast as we want or not, we all need to be able to work together and breathe new life into our downtown. Where right now there is a 6 square block vacancy,” added Rasmussen.
“Right now we’re facing a huge opportunity cost for the community and downtown businesses. we’re sitting here with an expensive pile of Rubble. I think what would be more reasonable is to tell the developer to come back when they have the money to complete the project,” Kilian said.
The City Council will meet on August 8 to decide on the new timeline.
Copyright 2023 WSAW. All rights reserved.