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City: Downtown theater a no-go

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WAUSAU — Plans for a 10-screen movie theater in downtown Wausau have now fallen apart, according to a news release issued Friday by Mayor Rob Mielke.

“Late yesterday, the City received feedback from representatives of the Mall that they had met with MICON Cinemas earlier and that the MICON team is unable to move forward,” Mielke wrote.

“While I am disappointed that the current parties involved in this proposal were not able to move forward together, I am proud that we at City Hall fully explored this and worked very hard to make it work, if possible,” the news release read. “There was overwhelming public support for a cinema in the City of Wausau and we are committed to thoroughly explore other alternatives.”

The former plan, approved in January by the city council by an 8-3 margin, called for the city to transfer the property to Micon Cinemas and included a $1 million forgivable loan. The deal was contingent on Micon adding jobs and building a complex worth $6 million.

The Sears property, which the city acquired for $650,000 earlier this year, has been vacant since Sears shuttered the store more than a year ago. In September 2016, city officials issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop the space.

Micon was one of two applicants expressing interest in the site.

In the release, Mielke said the city still believes that an entertainment use, such as a cinema, is a “meaningful way to help reposition Wausau Center and add an important addition to downtown Wausau.”

The city will now explore alternatives, which could include issuing a new RFP to develop the site.

“In our role as owner of the land underneath Sears, we have a vested interest in ensuring its reposition and, while the proposed cinema may not move forward, we have already negotiated the terms of decoupling the property from the Mall’s ground-lease which should allow a faster decision on a future alternative,” Mielke wrote.

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