The West Bend Common Council is scheduled to vote January 4, 2016 on the latest effort to save the bridge from demolition behind the West Bend Theatre. Developers have deemed the bridge an integral part of revitalizing the theatre.
This week there was a unanimous decision by the Downtown West Bend BID Board to cover any expenses related to the removal of the bridge, up to $75,000, should an effort to save the bridge fall short.
“This is huge for the momentum of the restoration right now,” said Matt Prescott, owner of the West Bend Theatre. Prescott and his company, Madison-based Ascendant Holdings, bought the theatre in May 2012.
“This is great news because the majority of the people connected to the restoration are pretty convinced the bridge is an essential part and certainly the city is in a no lose situation. This is certainly great for the theatre.”
Three years ago when Prescott purchased the theatre his intentions were simply to “restore the theater to its historic status” by demolishing the newer additions inside, hollowing it out and getting it back to the configuration of the old theatre.
“I want to stabilize it, get the roof back in shape and clean it up – so we know what we’re sitting on and see what uses people might come up with,” he said in 2012.
“This is exactly how I saw it playing out,” said Prescott on Thursday. “I wouldn’t have minded if it happened a little sooner but we bought it (the theatre) to stop it from deteriorating so people could see the potential the building had.”
Prescott said the next phase of the project is now starting to take shape. He said he is encouraged by a group of people coming together to officially start the restoration process.
“The bridge was important for the people to take the time, put the group together and determine how much time, energy and money to put in,” he said.
As far as the Prescott commitment is concerned, he said, “I still own the theatre. I’m holding it for now for this effort and I’m fully supportive of it.”
Questioned whether he planned to sell, Prescott said that had “yet to be determined.”
“If I do it or my family donates it has yet to be determined,” said Prescott. “I’m fully supportive as is my dad, George Prescott. It would be hard to imagine the Prescotts not involved in some way, shape and form going forward.”
Photo courtesy Roger Strack