Historic Registration Approved by Feds, State – It took two years of research, the services of a consultant and two inches of paperwork, but we got it done. The Wisconsin Historic Society signed off on our application for its registry and forwarded it a month ago to the National Park Service as an application for the national registry. The approval came though last week. Hooray! As we do the restoration work, we will have to adhere to conditions set by NPS. But we are now able to begin construction, with all expenses qualifying for state and federal historic tax credits. The credit authorizations will be sought immediately. So, away we go!
Retail Book Keeping System Up and Running – Chris Wenzel and Jay Tamez, both HWBT directors, lent their expertise to the implementation of “Square,” a software platform that will keep track of retail sales of theatre products. Thank you, Chris and Jay! The first terminal is at the West Bend Academy of Music, where Jay has donated space for selling our hats, posters and other stuff bearing the name “The Bend.” The system can be expanded down the road for other sales, like tickets and beverages.
Property Tax Exemption – With the tax registration approval, HWBT qualifies to apply for a city property tax exemption. That application has been forwarded to the city assessor. Our operating budget will be tight, especially in the early years, so we need the exemption.
Economic Impact of Theatres in Our Size Markets – An organization called “Americans for the Arts” has done research to assess what benefits historic theatres bring to a community. In a community like West Bend, these are the numbers from visitor traffic once the theatre gets a few years of operation under its belt: 54 full time equivalent jobs; $1.9 million in expenditures in and around the theatre; $1 million in increased household income; and $75,000 in new state and local sales taxes.
Grand Opening Pegged for April 2020 – Construction was held up a couple of months while waiting for the historic registration approvals, but the construction crews are gearing up to start the actual restoration work. The engineering work has been done, and MSI General, our design/build firm, has let several subcontracts. In addition, Pablocki Sign Company has been given the green light to renovate our “Blade,” the perimeter-lit sign that spells out the words “West Bend” in lights. We expect the iconic sign to be hoisted back into place in early summer. Construction will take about a year, so the grand opening has set tentatively for April 2020 – depending on restoration progress.