?Taphouse? planned in old ranger station
The Merrill Common Council Tuesday night voted unanimously to sell the former Ranger Station at 1110 E. 10th St. to a party who plans to turn the building into a taphouse.
WPE, LLC bid $50,012 on the property, which includes approximately three acres of land and two buildings. In his bid, Stan Janowiak of Merrill stated he plans to open a taphouse, serving craft beers and spirits.
The property consists of the 1940 granite building that formerly houses the ranger station and a storage building. The property reverted back to the city of Merrill after the Department of Natural Resources moved into a brand new ranger station on Eagle Drive. It has since been used by the Park and Recreation Department for summer children’s programs.
Prior to awarded the bid to Janowiak and WPE, LLC, the council officially rejected a first round of bids on the property. That first round garnered two bids, one for $7,500 from a local business interested in future expansion and another for $23,500 from an individual with no specific plans for the property.
City Administrator Dave Johnson said the city was approached by interested parties to re-bid the property. The second round of bids closed Oct. 10 with two bids received. Along with the WPE bid, the city received a bid of $55,000 from a Green Bay based LLC. That bidder expressed plans to use the property primarily as a second home with an office for local business projects.
The sale agreement includes a reversion clause. If WPE does not complete the project as proposed within 12 months, the property will revert back to the city.
Johnson noted that a recent citizen survey showed an interest in a brew pub in Merrill.
In recommending that the council accept WPE’s bid – even though it wasn’t the highest bid – Johnson said the project will increase the city’s tax base and could produce jobs.
“We will definitely make it up in tax revenue very quickly,” Johnson said.
In other business, the council awarded a bid to C&D Excavating of Merrill to demolish the remaining buildings on the old Anson-Gilkey property. C&D’s bid of $112,300 was the lowest by far of the bids received.
The cost of the demolition is being funded by the River District Development Foundation of Merrill and a donation from the Merrill Area Community Foundation.
“There is no cost to the taxpayers,” Johnson said.
Development & Leasing Corp. (D&L) donated the riverfront property earlier this year to the River District Development Foundation of Merrill for future construction of a hiking and biking trail. Because the foundation can’t own property, the foundation transferred ownership of the land to the city. The foundation retains an easement along the river and the balance of the property, once cleared, will be marketed by the city for redevelopment.
The 15-acre property is located at the south end of Kyes Street, east of the Center Avenue bridge.
The council also approved the site plan for a new Lincoln County Humane Society animal shelter building to be constructed at the northeast corner of the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
A couple of aldermen said they had gotten calls from constituents concerned about noise from the new facility.
Alderman Pete Lokemoen said the issue had been discussed at the City Plan Commission meeting and the design of the facility would direct noise from barking dogs toward the infield of the fairgrounds. Dogs could be contained in the facility during events at the fairgrounds, he added.
“The Plan Commission feels these issues have been resolved,” Lokemoen said.