Updated Letter sent Dec. 15, 2020 by Pippin Michelli:
sent to City of Racine Mayor Mason, City Alders and City Clerk,
I see that the demolition of the Capitol Park Theater, Washington Avenue, is on the Agenda for the next Common Council meeting, Tuesday, December 15, 2020, item 0886-20. Please take the following comments into account, and add them to the Minutes for the meeting:
The low bidder is a previous owner of the building, which was already deteriorating when they sold it to the current owner. A potential bidder asked about the short fifteen-day schedule to raze it and said that short time is “aggressive”, while other demolition companies have verbally mentioned to us that this short time to raze increases the costs by 30-40%. So, the demolition cost of nearly $200,000 is very expensive.
If the rush to demolish is because the Chief Building Inspector claims the building will not stand through another winter and is, therefore, a safety hazard and legal liability, we emphasize again that the theater is solidly built, the roof and walls are as stable as any other old building. The “massive holes” cited are in the interior drop ceiling, not the roof.
If the City goes ahead with this demolition, it will double its losses (approx $180,000 back taxes per City Clerk CC meeting Dec 1, plus approx $200,000 razing costs per low bid). These costs will be added to the land value ($43,000), to create an empty lot that will cost nearly half a million dollars before any development can begin. Why would any developer take this on?
To avoid these costs and problems, all the City has to do is NOTHING, to allow the attempt to rescue the building to go ahead. If successful, the building will then generate taxes on its 2 storefronts and apartments, and through its employees. When the City is looking at a projected deficit of approximately $5,000,000, why would it choose a monumental loss against this possibility of viability? If the attempt fails, time enough to raze the building then.
President, Preservation Racine
Pledges will only be collected when the non-profit 501(c)3 organization acquires the building and has signed contracts for the immediate roof and masonry repairs. If that doesn’t happen, the pledge will never be collected. Your pledge right now
helps the city to see that we can do this!