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Partial demolition started Wednesday at former Wausau site

Partial demolition began Wednesday at the former Wausau Paper site, now Brainerd Industrial Center (BIC). The work will last for the next 18 months, with three or four trucks a day leaving the site. That's far less than it was running as a paper ...

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Caleb Torres with Higgins and Associates cuts steel at Brainerd Industrial Center Wednesday. Portions of the waste water treatment plant were being demolished. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

Partial demolition began Wednesday at the former Wausau Paper site, now Brainerd Industrial Center (BIC).

The work will last for the next 18 months, with three or four trucks a day leaving the site. That's far less than it was running as a paper company when up to 50 trucks a day were leaving the site, said BIC CEO Mike Higgins.

The Brainerd City Council approved a special interim use permit earlier this month. Higgins picked it up Wednesday morning and crews went to work that afternoon.

It was in August that Higgins bought the entire site to repurpose it into an industrial center.

The whole site will not be torn down as proposed in the past by other companies. Instead, just a few buildings for "aesthetic reasons," Higgins said.

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He'll operate the site as an industrial center. The buildings will eventually be leased out to tenants for light industrial and commercial uses.

There's room for crane bays, electric power infrastructure, rail service, office buildings, warehouse capacity, storage buildings and workshop areas. There's also plenty of room to add more buildings in the future, company officials say.

About 15 people attended an open house Tuesday to learn more about the demolition process, Higgins said.

There aren't any tenants yet for the industrial center, but Higgins expects that to change within the next couple of weeks.

Some parts of the center are ready now for tenants, and businesses can set up shop throughout the demolition work process.

Higgins will continue marketing his industrial center space to local and outside businesses.

Some of those will hire locally, Higgins said.

Higgins himself is looking for another four people to hire for some warehouse positions.

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A small group of city leaders gathered Wednesday when Higgins picked up his permit.

"You are a breath of fresh air for the community," said city council member Chip Borkenhagen.

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