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Wausau committee approves sale of troubled Bull Falls Brewery’s assets

By Shereen Siewert,


Wausau Pilot & Review

The Wausau Economic Development Committee on Tuesday approved the auction sale of assets by the troubled Bull Falls Brewery in hopes the city will recoup some of its investment in the business, hundreds of thousands of dollars of which remains unpaid.

The committee acted on a request from the brewery to approve the sale of its assets – “tangible personal property and/or fixtures.” The proceeds will be held in trust and distributed in an order of priority of lien.

City Attorney Anne Jacobson told committee members several details needed to be worked out and declined to share any legal strategy to recover the city’s investment. Alder Tom Kilian had asked about potential clawback provisions in the initial development agreement, which was written in 2012.

Then, Wausau entered into a developer agreement with Bull Falls offering financial assistance of $600,000, of which $400,000 was a loan to be repaid over 10 years with a two-year deferral and interest at 2.36%. Bull Falls bought and razed additional abutting properties as part of their construction plan, while Wausau vacated a street, relocated a sanitary manhole and upgraded 30 feet of water main at taxpayer expense..

The committee made their decision in an open session even though a closed session on the sale through an auction was on the agenda. Alder Lisa Rasmussen said the city is on the downside because of its investment.

The news that Bull Falls Brewery was listed on an auction site apparently took some city leaders by surprise, while questions remain over how taxpayers will be made whole on its loan to the business.

The brewery, at 901 E. Thomas St., was founded in 2007, but struggled financially for years.

However, the brewery struggled financially for years, and the impact on taxpayers is yet to be seen. Bull Falls represents a standalone tax increment district and owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city, struggling with loan payments even after the brewery’s monthly obligation was sharply adjusted.

As of May 1, Bull Falls, which represents a standalone tax increment district, was $15,170.68 behind on loan payments, according to attorney Jacobson. Payoff of the outstanding balance as of May 1 was $281,461.71.

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