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Whitefish Bay residents start petition to save Fox Bay Theatre following building proposal

​Milwaukee developer New Land Enterprises is on a mission to bring more life back to the Fox Bay Theatre building.​
Fox-Bay Cinema Grill
Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 12, 2022

WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. — Milwaukee developer New Land Enterprises is on a mission to bring more life back to the Fox Bay Theatre building.

In order to do so, New Land proposed and presented a three-phase plan to the Village of Whitefish Bay's Community Development Alliance (CDA).

Phase 1: Renovate office spaces on the second floor.

Phase 2: Rent out retail space to businesses on the street level.

Phase 3: Find someone to operate the abandoned theatre which closed during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Actively filling the office space and the retail space we believe will logistically help us fill other office space. Neighboring retailers will have additional customers," said Sheldon Oppermann, the CFO of New Land Enterprises.

New Land Enterprises is looking for more than $700,000 in funding from the CDA's Downtown Incentive Grant Program. But that money would only go towards phases one and two of the plan and not the theatre.

Whitefish Bay residents start petition to save Fox Bay Theatre following building proposal

"We are hearing how important the third phase is but we don't have that phase figured out yet and until we do, we have to choose and work on the projects we have," said Oppermann.

Residents say they'd rather see reopening the Fox Bay Theatre as the top priority.

"Putting in another storefront or another apartment doesn't make Whitefish Bay special," said Susan Moss.

Now, a petition that's already garnered more than 900 signatures from residents is going around. It asks village officials to consider all options to renovate and reopen the theatre first.

"The ultimate goal would be to buy the Fox Bay Theatre as a community. Short of that what we would like to do is have this run as a nonprofit organization and have the community reach out for the TIF grants," said Jackie Stackhouse.

"I'm sure folks in this community own shares of the Packers. Own a share of the Fox Bay Theater. Make this your theater," said Tim Nelson.

New Land says it will do everything it can to reopen the theater someday.

"What we have heard very clearly from the public and the village is that they'd like to see it be a theater again and be used for a gathering place for the community and that's our intention," said Opperman.

The next CDA meeting to discuss the proposal will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m.

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