Bank First buys Verna’s
City rescinds condemnation of property
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca is no longer working to condemn a downtown property, because Bank First has bought it.
Bank First acquired the property at 105 Jefferson St. on Feb. 21, Steve Johnson told the common council on March 5.
“The bank has had a long desire to purchase and improve the appearance of the property,” said Johnson, a member of the bank’s board of directors.
Bank First is adjacent to it.
Johnson said the bank had been in negotiations to purchase the property since last summer.
“The intent is to raze the building,” he said about the former Verna’s Clothing Store building on it.
An extensive remodeling of the bank facility is scheduled to begin in April, Johnson said.
The project also includes creating more green space, he said.
The city wanted to create a veterans’ park on the property.
Johnson said the bank would like to work with the city regarding part of the property, possibly for such an idea.
The bank needs restrictions removed from 105 Jefferson St. before it can raze the building on it.
That is why Johnson attended the council meeting.
He asked the council to rescind the resolution it approved on Jan. 15.
That resolution allowed city staff to move forward with acquiring the property through eminent domain.
With all present on March 5, the council voted unanimously to rescind the resolution.
Brennan Kane reminded the council about why city staff brought the idea forward of acquiring the property through condemnation.
He is the city’s community and economic development director.
Kane said it is has been a blighted property for years, and identified as a redevelopment opportunity.
It is the preferred option for a public memorial area, he said.
Kane noted the city tried contacting the owner of the property on multiple occasions.
In the past, the city also had discussions with the bank about the property, he said.
When the council approved the initial resolution earlier this year, Ald. Lori Chesnut said she heard Bank First was buying the property.
Kane’s response was if that happened, the city would retract the eminent domain process.
He looks forward to more conversations with Bank First and veterans’ groups about the site.
Mayor Brian Smith said Johnson moved it forward after much effort.
“Steve, thank you again,” he said.