Historic Landmark Becomes a Place to Live and a Space to Gather in Wausau

WHEDA Conference Brochure
Published 11/19/2013

From the exterior it may be difficult to see that the once vacant unused Wausau Federal Building has been transformed into 21 loft-style apartments. The Federal Building was built in 1937 and is located in the heart of downtown Wausau. It has served as a post office, federal courtroom and offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Labor.

By 2004, the building was retired and no longer in use. In January 2012, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) as well as State and Federal Historic Tax Credits were combined with financing from the City of Wausau to rehabilitate the vacant Federal Building. MetroPlains Partners, LLC, a Minnesota-based housing and commercial real estate development company, developed the property now known as Federal Building Lofts. Paramark Real Estate Services currently manages the property. Federal Building Lofts received over $3 million in construction financing and was completed in December 2012. The building is a national historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, the redevelopment project maintained the historic building’s overall commercial character, including its symmetrical proportions and pronounced verticality. MetroPlains preserved several unique interior design features including the original wood windows, wall-hung porcelain sinks, wood baseboards, red oak paneled corridors, and marble thresholds.

When the federal government turned the building over to the city of Wausau, it required that the original oil pointing in the entrance lobby remain in place. He painting, title Lumbering, was painted by artist and Wisconsin-native Gerritt Sinclair and installed in the Federal Building in 1940. Sinclair was known for painting pictures depicting what it was like to live and work in Wisconsin during the 1930s and 1940s. As the building is considered an historic landmark, the lobby and courtroom areas remain accessible to the public at scheduled times. The city of Wausau plans to leverage the Art Deco-style building with its unique design features to attract local artists and musicians to the Federal Building for art and musical events. New life has been breathed into downtown Wausau with the creation of Federal Building Lofts. This development has not only created more rental housing spaces in Wausau, but has made new places for local artists and musicians to gather and share their work.