What is a Brownfield?

BrownfieldsBrownfields are abandoned or under-utilized commercial or industrial properties where expansion or redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination.

Brownfields vary in size, location, age, and past use. Any property with past uses that may have caused contamination could be a brownfield.

In Wausau, as in other cities, industry has moved out to perimeter industrial parks for room to expand and to have better highway access. Properties downtown or along the railroad corridors that used to provide the jobs and tax base that support our local economy have tended to become less valuable and in some cases are neglected and blighted.

Redeveloping these former industrial properties can be very difficult because of real or perceived liability for environmental clean-up costs.

What is Wausau doing to address Brownfields?

The City of Wausau has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Marathon County, Wausau Community Development Authority, Marathon County Development Corporation, and individual property owners to redevelop underutilized and tax delinquent properties.

Successes to date include:

Eye Clinic

City of Wausau Receives National Award - The City of Wausau’s successful revitalization of the 31-acre downtown waterfront site has been recognized with the 2013 Economic Impact Award by Brownfield Renewal magazine. The award recognizes a brownfield site development that best demonstrates positive economic impacts including job creation. Since adopting the River’s Edge Master Plan about half of the waterfront area (13.9 acres) has been remediated and redeveloped. The land is now home to the 11-story Dudley Tower, the four-story Riverside Place, the Marathon County Public Library, the three-story Eye Clinic of Wisconsin building, along with associated parking garages and green space.

Eye Clinic of Wisconsin - TIF funding used to conduct site investigation and disposal of contaminated soils - $10 million building has been completed. (See photo above)

Marathon Rubber Site Cleanup and Redevelopment - $100,000 WDNR Site Assessment Grant; $350,000 Federal US Department of Housing and Urban Development Economic Development Initiative Grant obtained with assistance of US Congressman Dave Obey – blighted manufacturing facility was demolished; a tot park, 4 single family homes, and two duplexes have been constructed; and a condo project is in the works.

Wausau Energy Site - $30,000 WDNR Site Assessment Grant – used to remove underground storage tanks and complete environmental site assessment – building has since been converted to a microbrewery with a sampling room that is open to the public.

First Wausau Tower – TIF funding used to address contamination in parking area – literally paving the way for $18 million in new construction.

Edsomatic Transmission Repair - $30,000 WDNR Site Assessment Grant and PECFA Funding – Blighted buildings have been demolished, underground storage tanks removed, and site assessment is in progress – future goal of preparing site for residential construction

Kraft Cleaners - $30,000 WDNR Site Assessment Grant and DERF Funding – Marathon County helped Wausau Community Development Authority acquire property by tax deed - Blighted buildings have been demolished and site investigation is in progress – future goal of private commercial development

Wausau Revolving Loan Fund - $50,000 of Community Block Grant funds have been set aside to assist development on Brownfields sites – funding has been used to cover costs later reimbursed by other grants

Other Information Resources Available:

For More Information Contact:

Kevin Fabel, Environmental Engineer
Email or 715 261-6743

Christian Schock, Planning, Economic & Community Development Director
Email or 715 261-6683