City approves New Fox developer agreement
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT – City leaders approved a developer agreement for the “New Fox” project on Main Street, during a Sept. 16 common council meeting.
Over two dozen individuals came to speak at the meeting, many in favor of CREATE Portage County’s revisioning of the historic Fox Theater.
The agreement sees the city funding $250,000 of the renovation and construction process for the dilapidating building. CREATE Director Greg Wright was in attendance at the meeting. He considers the project to be a vital step for the group.
Stevens Point City Planner Kyle Kearns helped finalize the developer documents. He sees the project as a way to expand what Main Street has to offer residents.
“With the [upcoming] injection of upwards of 300 additional housing units within downtown having the idea center downtown, having an education center downtown is going to benefit the community hugely,” Kearns said at the meeting.
District 10 Alder Mike Phillips said no in the 10-1 vote.
City works with CREATE
Comptroller Corey Ladick said the agreement has language built-in to protect the city from financial turbulence on the project. The first $150,000 of the funding would be released after a guarantee, bank letter, or asset security was acquired from the developer. The remaining capital would be released after 75 percent of CREATE’s phase two plans see completion.
City officials commented on the distinction between CREATE’s revisioning project and the group that currently maintains the downtown building, Fox on Main, LLC. Fox on Main has been working with the city for roughly a year on slowing the deterioration of the facility. The group is now working with CREATE.
Funding and financial concerns
Ladick added that the funding would not come from the city’s capital budget, but a TIF No. 5 increment. The Fox Theater is located in TIF No. 6. Fire Chief Robert Finn voiced concerns over utilizing funding for a community project that cannot be taxed by the city, due to its non-profit licensing.
Alder Phillips added that he felt funding the project was wrong from a city standpoint, stating, “We kind of fell into a trap here; the old trap is to ask for twice as much as you want, you get half, and everyone will feel happy.” Phillips’ remark stems from CREATE initially requesting $500,000 for the updates.
The future of the Fox
Mayor Mike Wiza said the Fox Theater could be open to the public as soon as next year. “Provided the money is there we could see new life in the Fox Theater sometime in late 2020,” Wiza added.
The controversial project is still seeking donations and pledges. CREATE leaders stated they are roughly $1.2 million to their $3.5 million goal for the project.
To learn more about the New Fox Project, visit: https://www.createportagecounty.org.
Contact Taylor J. Hale at [email protected] with Portage County news and information.