CITY: Let’s go to the MOVIES

A movie theater is likely for the empty Sears building after a Wausau city committee gave the proposal a tentative green light.

City staff will now work on final negotiations with Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas, which had been in talks with city and mall officials for more than a year.

The decision came after both Micon and its competitor for the project, HOM Furniture, revised their initial proposals to seek fewer city incentives. Micon is now asking for a $1 million forgivable loan and up to $450,000 through tax increment financing. The company also wants a reduction in the original $800,000 purchase price for the building. The city reportedly will pay $650,000 to purchase the space, the eastern wing of Wausau Center mall.

Wausau River District Executive Director Elizabeth Brokek Field and Compass Properties Manager Mark Craig were among those who lobbied in favor of the theater proposal, saying it would be a traffic driver for downtown.

HOM Furniture gave up tax incentives all together in its final proposal.

The Economic Development Committee on Tuesday discussed the proposals for nearly an hour in closed session. That decision was tough, says committee chair Tom Neal. “I’m still hopeful both of these business will come to our community.”

Prior to the meeting, both Micon and HOM representatives visited the mall to see if the vacant former JC Penney’s space would work as an alternative location. Neither company was able to make it work, says interim Community Development Director Christian Schock.

The proposal will be reviewed by the city finance committee before the city council has a final say, perhaps as early as January.