Wausau City Council approves plan to help keep mall open - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau City Council approves plan to help keep mall open

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Tuesday night the Wausau City Council decided to help keep the the mall open and running, giving the mall's owners a break on rent, but that comes with some long term commitments.

The city is letting the mall's owners keep their money by not paying rent for the next five years.

Council members say it's a total package worth more than $750,000. They say both the city and the mall's owners, CBL & Associates, want the mall to stay a part of downtown for years to come.

Some people in Wausau say they can't imagine their city without the downtown mall.

"It's always been here and I remember coming as a kid and they used to have the waterfall and the brick up front," said Jordan Aengen of Wausau.

The mall's future has come into question in recent months, but members of the city council say they want to put those worries to bed.

"The mall is a key piece of our downtown picture and when we look at the attractiveness of the mall in terms of its retail base and in terms of its property and sales tax that it generates, it also is part of the lifeblood of our downtown," said Councilwoman Lisa Rasmussen.

The city worked with CBL to secure the mall's long-term future.

"It is a five-year plan whereby we are giving them some concessions in terms of ground lease payments," Rasmussen said.

In total, the mall will have an extra $755,000 in their pocket, but CBL will have to hold up their end of the deal.

"In exchange, we are seeking that they secure a 10-year lease by a retailer on the empty JC Penney space and that they use the funding strictly for tenant improvements and incentives to either attract new tenants or retain existing ones," said Rasmussen.

It's a plan sure to make the mall's regular customers happy.

"It definitely would be a shame to see the the mall go down so if it would take a little money to pick it up so it can stay successful, that would definitely be worth it," Aengen said.

Council members say they're convinced the plan will be a good thing for Wausau.

"It really is a redevelopment effort and a revitalization of the Wausau Center mall and it's not just us infusing cash into their bottom line," said Rasmussen.

Some council members are keeping a close eye to be sure the mall's owners do their part. During the meeting, Councilwoman Sherry Abitz said she doesn't want to see the taxpayers bite the bullet.

For now, the one-time payment to the mall will be July First.

Neither CBL nor the mall's general manager returned calls for comment.

The vote on this plan passed unanimously.
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