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Federal Building Opens to Tenants

Wausau Daily Herald

January 7, 2013

By Amanda Seitz

A decade-old, historic landmark in downtown Wausau has completed its yearlong transformation into a loft style apartment complex and welcomed its first tenant last week.

The Federal Building Artists Lofts is accepting resident applications for the 21-unit apartment complex, Andy Wiesner, the building's property manager, said Friday.

MetroPlains, the Federal Building's developer, opened the First Street building Dec. 21 and crews are finishing up final touches after spending months carving out loft-style apartments from the buildings that once was home to the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department and Wausau's downtown post office.

Wiesner said 12 people have applied to live in the lofts, which still boasts pieces of Wausau's history such as an old federal courtroom and a jail cell. The lofts, Wiesner said, are aimed to attract Wausau's artists. He said the courtroom, which now serves as a community room for the building, can be used for a theater. He also is working with local artists to turn the lobby into an occasional art gallery in which tenants and local artists can display their work.

"The initial plan was to make this building appeal to artists," Wiesner said. "We would like as many artists (as possible). That's an important role in Wausau, it's an up-and-coming thing."

Because the building is considered an historic landmark, the lobby and old courtroom must be made available to the public at scheduled times. Community Development Director Heather Wessling said she is working with local art leaders and the property's developer to brainstorm ways to draw visitors to the apartments.

"They're all working on the types of things they want to have for the building to make it so that it's friendly and accommodating," she said.

The Federal Building project earned roughly $325,000 in Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority tax credits in 2011, limiting monthly rent on some apartments to between about $325 and $760 for low- and moderate-income tenants. Three of the apartments rent at market rate, and the remaining 19 are income-restricted. Water, garbage and sewer utilities are included in monthly rent and Wiesner said tenants will have reserved parking spots in the Jefferson Street Inn's parking area at no cost.

Wessling said she believes the apartments will draw more people to Wausau's downtown and lure several artists interested in renting.

"The demand for there is high," Wessling said. "Imagine how long that building was sitting there and now it's really nice to see how it's being utilized. Everybody is interested in that building."

To inquire about living in the Federal Building, contact Angie Rhode at 715-843-7799.

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