City could tear down Fox Theater in 90 days

By Brandi Makuski

The City of Stevens Point plans to issue a 90-day raze order on the Fox Theater sometime next week, according to CREATE Portage County.

The announcement comes shortly after the initial launch of a capital campaign to “reimagine the facility as a 21st-century hub for creativity and innovation,” according to a news release from CREATE Director Greg Wright.

“Rather than stalling CREATE’s plans, this announcement is energizing them,” Wright said.

Wright said CREATE has already raised one-third of the $3.5 million needed to repair the 125-year-old building’s roof, trusses, water damage, and other structural issues, and to make necessary upgrades.

“Without quick action, the facility is a risk to public safety and the structures around it,” Wright said.

CREATE’s current plans call for razing significant sections of the building to preserve the historic façade while focusing on energy-efficient new construction, which Wright said are designed to meet the current and future needs of our community.

“Based on our successful IDEA Center pilot and on national trends in support of the new economy, civic spaces, entrepreneurship, and the arts, the reimagined Fox will improve the quality of life in Portage
County while expanding our capacity to attract and retain the next generation of residents,” Wright said. “This facility is a component piece of CREATE’s larger economic and community development
strategy that is already paying dividends for our community.”

Wright said the coming 90-day order now gives CREATE a timeline.

“We are beyond investing any more money in short-term solutions that buy time for the Fox,” he said. “The Fox has been a question in this community for too long. We know the circumstances. We
have a viable plan. We are ready to move. As a community, it is time to breathe new life into
the Fox or to let that piece of our history go.”

Wright said the group has 90 days to secure a little over $2 million in pledges so it can work out a plan with the city for moving forward.

The building was pinged as the future home of CREATE, which announced in April it planned to relocate its base of operations to the historic building. The Fox was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 for its architectural significance.

“If we are unable to do so, CREATE will comply with this order and the Fox will come down,” Wright said. The time to act is now. Spread the word. Talk to your representatives and employers. Volunteer.”

Anyone interested in making a pledge should contact Wright at gregw@createportagecounty.org. More information is available at www.createportagecounty.org/anewfox.

*This story is developing. More as we have it.