Despite the First Phoenix Group backing out of their plans to construct an assisted living facility, a movement to develop the property, located on Eisenhower Parkway and the Hwy. 17 bypass on Rhinelander’s east side, continue to progress.
In the March 25 issue of the Star Journal, we brought you a feature on the proposed development, which would have been called “Stoney River.” At the time, city officials hinted that First Phoenix wanted to move quickly on the project, likely in an attempt to catch up to the construction progress on the Rennes Healthcare facility about a half mile away on the bypass. As can often happen, though, First Phoenix had difficulty securing the funding for the project, and notified the city about two weeks ago that they were no longer interested in purchasing the parcel. The company opened an assisted living facility in Marshfield in 2011 and broke ground in early March on another facility in Weston.
“From what they told me, the move was made for financial reasons,” said Rhinelander City Administrator Blaine Oborn. “From what they indicated, they are no longer looking at Rhinelander is a destination for a new facility.”
However, the owners of the property still decided to move forward with the annexation of the property into the city of Rhinelander at Monday night’s City Council meeting. Oborn said he helped them make the decision that would be in the best interest of the property’s marketability. The parcel was zoned by the city as General Business/Commercial.
“That is a great location for something in the retail sector,” said Oborn. “I always thought that parcel was much more suitable for a retail building than as a mixed use residential facility.”
Oborn said that while the property owners do not have a specific buyer lined up, commercial interest in the property has picked up considerably as word spread of First Phoenix backing out. He said that interest helped spur the property owners to move forward with the annexation, and suspects there may be a buyer lined up quickly.
“Annexing a particular piece of property can often be a rather lengthy process, sometimes taking several months,” said Oborn. “This way, that step is complete, and the property will now have full access to city water and sewer and other utilities. That will definitely make it easier to market in my opinion.”