Wausau Master Plan 2000

Perhaps the “Friday Dudley” prompted Marcus to send this along:

Does anyone remember 2000 when the Wausau Master Plan was introduced by Mayor Lawrence & Company?

Might I call your attention to page 19, section F – The Riverfront “Superblock” District. From the looks of recent growth, the spirit of the plan is mostly in effect. Except for two things, the new parking structure and The River Place Building.

This $22M open-air auto storage is mostly empty I might add, but a future referendum may be on the ballot soon for a future expansion of two more levels of empty parking. [nice!] This was suggested as a compromise, since the city was going to have to fork over another $2M for the preparation of the top floor to build condos (as was previously planned).

The second part I need to point out is the recommendation of Madison’s City Vision: The site abutting 1st Street, north of the Library, should be kept in architectual scale with the river, and its ultimate use should be riverfront oriented. See page 44 for a rendered drawing.

Okay, so someone goofed on this one. While I’m all for downtown development – even “sacrificing” a project I was involved in (Rockwater) to make room, I do think someone needs to remind city officials that they already spent quite a bit of money to get a recommendation for future growth. That plan entailed a “River Front” development philosophy.

Meanwhile Wausau Benefits has made a wonderful investment with their newest office construction (Ironically, naming the building River Place) So, why all the fuss? It’s to point out that Wausau is allowing it to happen again. The Dudley Brothers Building.

Nothing against the Dudleys, who are certainly one of a handful of innovative thinkers in the city, it’s just counterintuitive to block the River Front. Again.

The powers at City Hall just don’t get this. Here they have this unique River Front, and no one is capitalizing on it! At least, not in a community focused manner. Outside of a few Kayak races, what is drawing people to the river?

Perhaps I’m underestimating the new Dudley Brothers Building, but how hard would it be to create the first floor in such a way as to “launch” a string of new businesses along the water front? Perhaps eateries and a small marina for boaters to float into? This would have a profound effect on the downtown area, wouldn’t it? Promoting the waterfront as a gathering place?

This, in my opinion, would be of the best interest to the community.


18 responses to “Wausau Master Plan 2000

  1. Arriving with a well thought out bang I see.

  2. While the Dudley building may be a bit to tall for the location the footprint of the building should fit with the site. The building is not flush with the sidewalks, but instead is instead setback from the sidewalk with space on all sides for a more open feel. The same thing also happened with the River Place, which now has some nice green space on all 4 sides, and allows the River Place to act as a transition between downtown and the river edge.

    My only big concern with the Dudley building is whether all the trees that are located between the building and the river will be removed. There are several old oak (I think) trees that have grown next to the bridge, and I am hoping that several of them are kept and worked into the landscaping. I am not sure that all of them are savable, but there are about 3 that I would like kept.

  3. The point is not tree preservation, nor the nice green space around the building – The point is that more could be done to create a waterfront in Downtown Wausau. Bigger buildings are not going to enhance that.

    That’s what the entire City Vision plan was trying to convey to City Leaders back in 2000. In essence, “You have this amazing river downtown. Use it!”

  4. I feel torn, cause I see Marcus’s point that we’re not taking advantage of the river and I also see the advantage of having really nice class A office space in the heart of the downtown area. I think the city needs to be reminded that its plan is important, as residents off Town Line Rd did a few weeks ago. If anyone poses thoughtful questions at the planning commission (and maybe notifies the Daily Herald before), you’ll probably get good results. I learned a stat a while back that it takes something like 7 requests to convince a grocery story to carry a new item. Perhaps one needs only six friends before the city planning commission to force developers to adhere to community planning goals? I think the initial shock and awe of a big announcement makes everyone forget what’s important and by the time they recover it’s too late to make a significant change.

    I’d also like to address the comment that the parking lot isn’t full. Yes, it isn’t full at night, but check it out during most days. I’ve had to park on the fifth floor recently because every floor below it was packed. I think it’s great the city is going to add more floors for parking, because I’d really hate another block like the Jefferson St ramp. The fact that it’s empty at night is another issue the city needs to address – how to get people to enjoy downtown after 5pm, but that’s for another post…

  5. I believe that the river front could be used more effectively. North of Scott St. Bridge beyond the new Dudley Building are worn down buildings that should be dealt with. I’m talking about the vacant ones of course. Going further north along the river lies a gravel back lot if you will. A flat gravel surfaced land that stretches along the river towards the old train bridge. This is area should be developed soon. The island (I forgot the name of it) that is in front of the Eastbay Building should also be made into a park of sorts as well….all of this is wishfull thinking of course.

  6. What Burt brought up is right on the money. Wausau needs a more sophisticated night life, taking notes from Appleton would be ideal. A large sports bar would be great that transcends into a nightclub after 10pm. Sort of like the new restaurant/nightclub opening up in Weston called Su Casa. They also need larger bars to host live music. Scott Street Pub is a great place for blues/jazz…but an actuall raised stage with plenty of room for seating is a most.
    Most importantly I believe Wausau needs a small arena of sorts. I’m not talking the Bradley Center of Milwaukee, but a small scaled arena that seats 2000 for conventions, circus’, sporting events and most importantly…CONCERTS. Lets face it, the Grand is a great place to see the type of venues they offer. However, more popular bands and entertainment would attract much needed nightlife to the area. The venues that the Grand do book are for older married couples who have to rush home after the show to take home their baby-sitters. Targetting a younger demographic which still includes the 40-55 year olds could be attained by attracting larger acts. How would Scott Street Pub do then? Well, they would be packed after a show as would the Intermission Bar or any bar located in the area.
    ps….what about the Rogers Theatre building? There was talk of making into a place to catch live music…but since then it has just stood there collecting dust.

  7. This are good comments and they include some things that we’ve discussed. Some we are working on and others really require private investors to take the plunge.

    With respect to the east side of the river, there are continuing discussions and plans that haven’t come to fruition yet, but the environment for that is changing and you’ve likely noticed the crane in place on the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin project. The Rogers Theatre project may also be moving forward.

    Entertainment such as night clubs/sports bars are certainly something we want to encourage and you are on target with that. It’s important to have things that reach the demographic you’re talking about and we will do what we can. I had an interesting discussion recently about a facility that might have some possibilities for multiple use; we’ll see how that goes. But you’re sure right: you can’t dance in the Grand. 🙂

    Keep those good ideas coming and who knows who might pick up on something! 🙂

  8. One more thing (besides that the first word of my last comment should be “These”… Within the past year or so, we completed the North Third Street area master plan and we will likely be proceeding with a similar plan for what I would call “the near west side” between Stewart & Elm, the river and Third Avenue. (I expect that we will do more with the Third Avenue corridor going forward.)

  9. Owning and managing properties in that “near west side,” I am excited about the not-s0-distant future possibilities there

  10. I am watching the progress from a distance, I was very involved in promoting Downtown activety while working Downtown Wausau. I believe the River Walk needs to get done as soon as possible in order to “preserve the waterfront” with the walkway in a guaranteed place, then development will shine. including
    restaurants, two and three story condos, places of entertainment, boat slips, retail, and parks. The River Walk will act as the “place to be and meet”. Keep growing Wausau!

  11. I say this…and I mean it…I call on the city leaders to have giant town hall meetings, with power point presntations, and speakers of all kinds. Explain to the public what your plan is. Make this information available for download or make copies and hand them out to the public.

    I think that the leadership in this fair city does not do a very good job disseminating information, and is not dynamic in its collaboration with members of the city.

    Maybe, a good start would be lemonade at city council meetings, that is a joke…but seriously.

    You elected officials, should take some time and encourage your district to show up and listen and learn about the way it all works.

  12. That is a great recommendation.. but there is a lot of apathy out there…

    you could publicize the ____ out of it, serve beverages and munchies.. and still the only people that would come are the same ones that do now.

  13. It does not matter if they come. What matters is that they would do it. Do it often enough, have that discussion often enough, over and over, and they would develop respect and they would engage the public in a larger manner.

    Your wrong. I work in media, and I have no idea when city council meetings are. I have to ask Pat.

    Its not about selling tickets, its about elected officials showing that they take the constituency seriously, and will speak to them in times other than the campaign cycle.

    Just because there is apathy, does not mean someone should not act. I mean if we base our rights based on involvement, I think we could get rid of voting all together.

    The fact is elected officials have a responsibilty to us to educate us. Like we have a responsibilty to learn as much as we can and make our voices heard.

  14. I’ve done a number of district meetings on the southeast side over the years and attendance at those has been pretty good, really — perhaps 80-100 people on a consistent basis. It’s probably time to plan another. I’ve generally done them in the early fall to coincide with budget discussions.

  15. I think you need to publicize them better. I had no idea you did them.

    Go to Loren at Channel 9, or Al at Channel 7, and make them put it on the news in advance. Be proactive in coverage.


    So we know what is going on

  16. You probably don’t live in my district. The district meetings are for district residents and they are therefore publicized within the district. I believe the Herald picked up on the last one and I have no problem with that, but again, it is a district meeting.

  17. I know that. But the fact that a council man is paying attention, that is a story.

    Its a story man. Your a politician paying attention in a time when people say they are not paying attention. That is a damn story.

    I dont live in your district.

    I live in a town commited to dog parks, and giant swimming places that dwarf everything.

    And a good drivers ed program, and Roger Dodd.

  18. Dino.. you live in a Village……. they are pretty proud of that

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