New plans for The Plaza to be determined by Wausau city council

The Plaza Hotel and Suites in Wausau (4/8/20 WSAW photo)
The Plaza Hotel and Suites in Wausau (4/8/20 WSAW photo)(WSAW)
Published: Apr. 8, 2020 at 10:33 PM CDT
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Wausau’s Plaza Hotel and the property it sits on could have a new look in the future, thanks to a proposed plan that would see the just over six acres of property split into three different properties.

“We’ve been working with the developers involved to kind of break it down and see it reused in a variety of ways,” said Christian Schock, director of Planning, Community and Economic Development for the city of Wausau. “One commercial parcel, one multi-family residential parcel and then the renovation of the tower portion of the hotel itself.”

According to Schock, one of the hotel’s owners plans to purchase the hotel and renovate the tower portion of The Plaza, which would then become a 64-room Best Western hotel once the renovations were completed. To complete that project, the owner is requesting a Commercial Rehabilitation loan from the city.

“This package will use both tax increment financing and the loan portions to see it come to fruition,” said Schock. “It’s a major investment for the city so we’re excited to see that. This really does improve the taxable value of these properties which has been depressed for many years because the property has not performed well financially and isn’t in the best of shape and I think we all acknowledge that. I think it will be great to see this turn the corner and see it improve as something that people can be proud of in the neighborhood and the city.”

While all committee members approved of the distribution of the Commercial Rehabilitation loan and tax increment financing request for the hotel, the same couldn’t be said for the tax increment financing request for the demolition of the convention center on the hotel's property.

Lockre Company is the developer that plans to build multifamily housing units. To do so, they will need to demolish a good portion of the convention center, something that Schock referred to as blighted.

Alderperson Gary Gisselman didn’t argue the demolition of the building but did have an issue with what will be taking its place.

“I think that we should seriously think about our continued development of high-end housing when we should seriously be thinking about other types of housing within this city,” Gisselman said, referring to an increasing need for low-income and medium-income housing in Wausau. “I’m still contingent to have my issues with this development. I think we’ve gone far enough, and that’s why I will be voting no.”

Gisselman was the only member of the economic development committee to vote 'no', with the finance committee passing both agenda items unanimously.

It will now be up to the city council to make the final decision on the future of the hotel. The council's next meeting is scheduled for April 14th.