Two large commercial properties in the Rhinelander remain vacant months after their respective occupants ceased operation, despite efforts by the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation to lure new occupants.
According to OCEDC director Stacey Johnson, the former Shopko building on Lincoln Street and the former home to Drs. Foster and Smith/Petco have garnered some interest lately, but no takers yet.
"There were a couple entities that toured the location (Petco). I know offers were made, but none of those offers have been formally countered by Petco. So at this time, as far as I'm aware, there isn't any active negotiations going on," Johnson said.
A retailer approached the owner of the Shopko space, but apparently the price was too high.
"They want a lot for that building," Johnson said.
In early January, Petco announced it was shuttering its Rhinelander operations with the exception of the LiveAquaria, putting 289 people out of work.
Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) was founded in 1983 as a group of four veterinary clinics with the goal of helping pets live healthier, happier lives by providing the highest quality veterinary care available. Dr. Race Foster, Dr. Rory Foster and Dr. Marty Smith's animal hospitals in northern Wisconsin were the first in the nation to offer free rabies vaccinations and free spay/neutering services.
Petco acquired the company on Feb. 2, 2015. In January 2018, it announced that many of the "front office functions" of DFS were being moved to San Diego, a move that eliminated 55 jobs.
While the community was still reeling from that news, Shopko announced a month later that the Rhinelander store would be closing along with all of it's other retail stores as the company could not reorganize its debts in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Oneida County considered acquiring the Petco site as a possible location for the highway department, but the Board of Supervisors abandoned the effort in April after determining the cost of purchasing, renovating and maintaining the property.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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