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FDL City Council Approves Retlaw Theater Project Request To Apply For Grant


The redevelopment of the former Retlaw Theater in downtown Fond du Lac cleared one hurdle last night as the City Council approved allowing for the applying for a $500,000 state grant. Community Development Director Wayne Rollin says the grant is important in the financing of the $2.3 million project that will allow Commonwealth Development to relocate their corporate headquarters there and build 10 market-rate apartments on the second and third floors. City Manager Joe Moore said he’d been contacted by someone yesterday who said they had a competing offer for development, but offered no details. Council Vice-President Lee Ann Lorrigan says the property on South Main has been on the market for five years. She says they know with Commonwealth that the company will follow through on development of the property. She says the property right now is run down. Council President Sam Meyer abstained from the vote because he has an adjacent property. The Council approved the request on a 6 to nothing vote. The project still needs approvals from the Redevelopment Authority and Historic Preservation Commission.                

Comments 7
Anonymous commented on 13-Mar-2014 11:48 AM3 out of 5 stars
So what will happen with the successful business that is there now - Wempner's School of Dance? Is the city going to assist them with relocating? Is the city going to assist them with renovating that new location? A lot of hard work and a lot of personal money by the owner, Ann Kelley were put into the 3rd floor of said building. Are they going to have to figure it out on their own because of an issued state grant for a company that has taken over Fond du Lac? Wempner's has been in business here in FDL for over 40 years. They deserve better!
David Pick commented on 13-Mar-2014 03:06 PM3 out of 5 stars
I do not speak for Common Wealth as I am not employed by them and have no association with them. According to public records, Wempners School of Dance will be allowed to stay right where they are located currently according to what Common Wealth has stated. Ann Kelley's dream won't happen of renovating the Retlaw Theater to original glory with what Common Wealth plans to do with the property. However, at least her business will be allowed to stay and continue operation with out disruption and loss of revenue. It's not a total win for Ann Kelley, but it's also not a total loss if Common Wealth's original proposal had been adopted.

I'd have liked to see the Retlaw theater restored as a theater myself. However the cost would be north of what Common Wealth is proposing to spend on the property and chance of financial return seems non-existent with the public reaction to what will be done with the vacant historic property.
Anonymous commented on 13-Mar-2014 03:50 PM3 out of 5 stars
Fond du Lac loves corporate welfare. Grants aren't free, the taxpayer foot the bill.
Anonymous commented on 13-Mar-2014 04:42 PM3 out of 5 stars
Wempners is staying in that location and benefitting from this grant.
Anonymous commented on 14-Mar-2014 01:30 AM3 out of 5 stars
Thought in the new plan the dance studio stayed.
Anonymous commented on 14-Mar-2014 07:26 AM3 out of 5 stars
Although certainly disappointing for Ann Kelly, this is how all leased buildings work for businesses. The business leases space, the business spends their own money to modify it to meet their needs, the business uses that space until they do not have the legal right to do so. No reason this should be an emotional topic for anyone, including Ann. If she has the desire to stay there she will have to work that out with the new owner. If the new owner is not willing, then she finds a new location. Any business owner should clearly understand the terms of operating a business.
Anonymous commented on 14-Mar-2014 12:50 PM3 out of 5 stars
Wempner's is staying in the building and will benefit a great deal from the grant.

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