As one of its first orders of business in the new millennium, the Wausau Common Council adopted a Central Business District Master Plan on January 11, 2000 as an element of the City's Master Plan. The Central Business District Master Plan was prepared by the City's Comprehensive Planning Committee with the assistance of a Madison, Wisconsin consulting firm, CityVision Associates. Work on the plan began in March, 1999 and focused on that part of the community generally bounded by Third Avenue, Sixth Street, Bridge Street, and Thomas Street. The planning process, which involved considerable citizen input and meetings with elected and appointed officials, resulted in a 50-page document intended to guide the future development of the Central Business District. The plan contains a vision statement, general goals for the Central Business District, and many specific recommendations focused on land use, redevelopment activities, transportation, streetscape, and urban design. The document also details an implementation strategy for carrying out many of the plan's recommendations. The full plan is available online (PDF 7.4MB).
The community's vision for downtown as articulated in the plan is:
Downtown Wausau is the heart of the City and surrounding region. It is the nerve center of retail trade, financial transactions and governmental activities in the region. Downtown Wausau gives our community and those who identify with Wausau a strong sense of place. More than any other part of the City, downtown defines Wausau as a community. City officials, business leaders and residents from throughout the Wausau Urban Area recognize the importance of downtown to our heritage and to our future. They are vitally interested in strengthening the social, cultural and economic position of downtown for the betterment of everyone.
For downtown Wausau, the next 20 years will not simply be a continuation of the past. There will be dramatic changes in many of the elements that help define our downtown. Redevelopment of the riverfront for open space and public purpose and connecting this area to the commercial core will enhance the area's appeal to all visitors. Expansion of civic, cultural and entertainment spaces and programs will help create renewed business and visitor interest in downtown.
Downtown Wausau's unique architectural and physical character will have renewed vibrance. People from throughout the region will recognize downtown's uniqueness and gather here to work, shop and enjoy the many available social, cultural and entertainment options. The physical improvements made to the downtown and the heightened activity in the central area will help generate new employment opportunities and stimulate interest in living downtown.
Since its adoption, many of the recommendations contained in the Master Plan have been further tested, evaluated, rejected, modified, or implemented.