Fox Theater Group Positioned for City Grant
By Brandi Makuski
The Fox Theater is primed to receive a $5,000 grant from the City of Stevens Point for a structural anaylsis of the building.
An architecual study is needed to determine how safe the building actually is after sitting vacant for three decades before members of the Fox Theater Board can move ahead with planned renovations. The family- owned theater remained empty for 30 years until it was donated to the Arts Alliance of Portage County in February.
According to city documents, the analysis of the building could cost as much as $20,000. The Fox Theater Board says after the $5,000 donation from the city, another $5,000 is being raised by private investors and the group is working towards a $10k grant from the Community Foundation.
“We are in the process of working with the structural engineer to figure out the quality of the building, to determine if the building is safe for people to go in and to determine how we need to renovate in there,” said Greg Wright, the Fox Theater Board President. He added the Milwaukee- based firm Engberg Anderson had been chosen through an RFP (request for proposal) process to perform the study.
Members of the Finance Committee Monday night discussed the possibility of using money from the flush Downtown Façade Improvement Grant Program fund, but decided against it because that money is not designed for use by nonprofit entities. The $5,000 grant will instead be taken from a city contingency fund.
“This building, if repurposed, would clearly add significant value to the downtown, and while they will not be directly contributing to the tax revenue, that building will eventually create tax revenue for the city indirectly, and would be a major traffic generator. That would also increase property values in the downtown area as well,” said Mayor Andrew Halverson.
“I don’t like taking from contingency,” said Alderman Jerry Moore. “But for clarification I would rather see it come out of contingency instead of playing this bookkeeping game of which pot to take it out of and have it be confused later on by other nonprofit groups.”
“But I know the community is anxiously awaiting any news of the Fox Theater,” Moore added.
Wright said there was no timeline yet put in place for renovations, and the entire future of the building would be determined on the findings of the structural study, but said the city’s pocketbook could play a key role in that future.
“There was a feasibility study done in 2010 as for how this (renovation project) would work in the downtown setting,” Wright said. “At that point, there was talk of as much as $1 million in donations to make this work.”
Wright added only after the study results were complete would he and other Fox Theater Board Members know how much financial assistance from the city would be needed, but did say he was “hoping to have a partnership with the city as we move forward.”