In July 2019, the city inspectors in Stevens Point marked some buildings for demolition which have recently done bathroom renovation. The historic Stevens Point Theater was one of the structures affected. This directive means that if the theater is to be demolished, we will lose an important monument.
However, the structure was saved from demolition when the Stevens Point City Council voted to donate a total of $250,000 to a nonprofit organization showing a willingness to renovate and give the theater a new facelift.
The Immediate Plan
Before this donation, the theater was in danger of demolition after a 90-days’ notice was issued to the owners of the buildings to renovate them or else they will be demolished. CREATE Portage County CEO Greg Wright said that the funds will allow them to initiate the renovation and fix the most urgent problems currently existing in the structure so that it can be ready for more work in the future.
The current plan is to lay the base for more renovations as they raise more funds to reach the target of 3.5 million dollars. So far, the organization has raised a total of $1 million towards the renovation project.
Intended New Use of the Renovated Theater
The CREATE reported that the plan is to use the vacant structure to serve as a home for their IDEA center and create a community hub that will be used as co-working space, a business incubator to help upcoming businesses develop. The structure will also serve as an art and community meeting place.
According to Wright, the IDEA Center is now three years old and has started 50 new businesses. It has also housed groups of video producers, fabric artists, and woodcarvers among many more craft and artist groups. About 200 individuals use the IDEA center every month. Currently, the center is in Stevens Point building given by the county; however, the assistance is on a temporary basis, and the renovated theater will serve as the permanent location.
Support from the Community
Most community members are in favor of the renovation project as seen in the city council meetings. Wright said that it was encouraging to see people from various age groups, races, and people in different social classes supporting the project.
The fox theater was launched in 1894 and named the Grand Opera House. Over the years, this theater has hosted many events, including early Hollywood films, silent movies, and vaudeville shows. The theater has been out of operation from the mid-1980s ‘til today.
Wright said that the disbursed funds will allow embarking of the first phase renovation to restore the theater’s lost glory. He added that as the work starts, lobbying for more funds will continue to ensure the project progress to completion. Wright also indicated that their plan has always been to make long-term investments, not short-term ones. That way, the theater will be able to make long-term plans.
House renovation is one of the interventions that improve the status of structures. Historic Stevens Point Theater renovation will ensure that the theater will be given a new lifeline. The funds released by the Stevens Point City Council will be instrumental in restoring the lost glory of the theater.