THEATER could buy SEARS building for $1

Under a revised deal to bring a multiple-screen theater into the Wausau Center mall, Micon Cinemas could buy the empty Sears building from the city for $1.

Micon Cinemas Sears

Micon Cinemas Sears

The city’s Finance Committee on Tuesday recommended the revision to the original deal, which replaces up to $575,000 in tax incentives the theater requested for demolition and environmental remediation on the site.

Environmental cleanup is needed on the site, which included an auto repair center, though cost estimates are not yet available. Under the terms of the new proposal, Eau Claire-based Micon Cinemas would be responsible for those costs, but would receive a $1 million forgivable loan to help defray project costs. Ultimately, Micon will be responsible for roughly 90% of the costs of the $10 million project.

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The city has a deal in place to buy the building from Sears for $650,000. Giving it to Micon makes financial sense because the project would add significant taxable value to the area, says Interim Community Development Director Christian Schock. The finished building would be valued at about $7 million, Schock says.

At the city’s 2017 tax rate of $9.76 per $1,000 value, the new building itself would bring in tax revenues of around $68,000 a year. The Sears building’s 2016 assessed value was $4 million, which at the $9.67 rate would generate around $39,000 in tax revenue per year for Wausau.

City leaders say the theater will bring more traffic and other businesses downtown, while adding to the diversification of the mall.

The city’s economic development committee chose the theater over another proposal, from HOM Furniture, for the empty building vacated by Sears in August. City leaders are working aggressively to try to find an alternative location for HOM Furniture, Schock says.