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Nonprofits Eye Struggling Wisconsin Rapids Mall

YMCA, Boys & Girls Club $27.5M Plan Includes Indoor Aquatic Center


Two nonprofit organizations have announced plans to acquire the struggling downtown mall in Wisconsin Rapids.

The South Wood County YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area say they hope to convert the Rapids Mall into an indoor aquatic center, gymnasium, teen center, demonstration kitchen and full-day child care center.

The proposed facility would be a combination of both renovated and newly constructed spaces encompassing about 90,000 square feet, according to a news release from the two organizations.

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They estimate the cost of the project at $27.5 million.

“This is a major partnership between two very strong, reputable nonprofit organizations,” said YMCA CEO Bret Salscheider.”Together we see this as a way to really positively impact and make a very bold statement for the health and well-being of children and families, not only for today but for generations to come.”

Salscheider said the project could help the city’s downtown.

“Certainly part of the secondary benefits is how this fits into the city of Wisconsin Rapids’ downtown revitalization plan, and how projects like this can spur economic development because of the activity it generates,” Salscheider said.

Boys & Girls Club Board Chairwoman Jill Kurszewski said having both organizations in one facility would “serve as a model.”

“It should also eliminate duplicative services while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all of the Wisconsin Rapids area,” she said in a statement.

The Rapids Mall opened in August 1978. It lost its Younkers store in 2013, and J.C. Penney, its remaining anchor store, in July.

About a dozen retail stores will have to leave the mall and relocate if the project goes through.