December 14, 2020


I have just emailed this message to the City Clerk for inclusion in the Minutes of tomorrow’s Common Council meeting, Tuesday December 15, 2020.


Dear 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 winning bidder (who is the previous owner of the building, which was already deteriorating when sold) notes that the fifteen-day schedule is “aggressive”, while other demolition companies have verbally mentioned to us that this speed increases the costs by 30-40%. So, the demolition cost of approximately $200,000 is unnecessarily steep.

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 winning 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 shops 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.

Pippin Michelli
Perette (“Pippin”) Michelli, Ph.D.
President, Preservation Racine: preservationracine.org
Art History with Michelli: plinia.net
Kuficpedia: www.kuficpedia.org