By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A new downtown music venue in the former Wausau Masonic Lodge is now expected to open in May, about four months after the owners’ anticipated opening date.

Whitewater Music Hall, 130 N. First St., was slated to open in January. The building, home to the Wausau Area Masons since 1981, sold for $550,000 to three local partners on Dec. 15, 2018, about two months later than expected, according to Marathon County land records.

The city’s public health and safety committee in July approved a reserve liquor license for Whitewater Music Hall, LLC, whose partners initially planned a January opening. Kelly Ballard and Leslie Patterson, who are sisters, appeared at the July meeting and said they planned a light remodeling of the interior. That remodeling is underway, with work anticipated to wrap up by the end of April, according to a letter submitted by Ballard to city officials.

In her letter, Ballard is requesting an extension of the Class B liquor license to better align with the venue’s opening. The public health and safety committee will consider the request during their Feb. 18 meeting.

The venue will feature live a variety of live music events and the partners will also operate a coffee bar inside the building during the day.

In a July interview with Wausau Pilot and Review, Ballard said the venue will host smaller, more local acts throughout the week and book larger acts for the weekend. To round out the experience, they will offer regional craft beer on tap, espresso based drinks, and food trucks.

Ballard’s husband, Brad Ballard, is also a partner in the project and a musician in his own right. The group is looking forward to providing a new space to add musical energy to the downtown area.

The new venue is expected to make downtown Wausau an even more vibrant music destination. Several downtown bars and restaurants already offer live music options, and local business owners say adding a concert space could draw more tourists and visitors to the downtown area.