After Oneida Co. passes on Petco property, leaders look to other optionsSubmitted: 04/19/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

After Oneida Co. passes on Petco property, leaders look to other options
RHINELANDER - On Tuesday, Oneida County decided against buying the Petco property on Rhinelander's west side.

Its buildings have been mostly empty since the business, once owned by Drs. Foster and Smith, closed last month and laid off almost 300 employees.

The county was considering using part of the massive warehouse as a new highway shop. That idea fell through, but there's still interest from other buyers for the $4 million property.

"It's very important, and we're going to be here to work with any interested party to help facilitate the information," said Stacey Johnson, the executive director of the Oneida Co. Economic Development Corporation.

Johnson briefly served on a committee considering whether the county should buy the property and use it as a new highway shop.

This week, the county disbanded the group after only a few weeks in existence. But Oneida Co. could still have a role to play.

"We've seen it with other buildings, so there's no reason that this building would be any different," Johnson said.

In 2016, Oneida Co. approved a $15 million loan for paper producer Expera, now Ahlstrom Munksjo, to move into Rhinelander's old Printpack building on Kemp St. The company opened new paper lines in a building that had been vacant for two years.

"Bringing jobs, improving the economy, and make use of a building that was literally a dinosaur," Oneida Co. Board Chair Dave Hintz said at the time.

We're still a ways away from something like that for the Petco property. But Johnson is confident there's a business use for the complex.

"I don't think anyone wants to see that building sit empty," she said.

Petco representatives in San Diego didn't respond to a message Friday seeking to learn more about interest the company has gotten in the property.

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