Fond du Lac Receives $400,000 State Grant for Retlaw Theater Redevelopment

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation assistance to help finance $2.3 million project downtown

MADISON, WI. June 18, 2014 – In a major boost for downtown Fond du Lac, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has approved awarding a $400,000 grant to the city for the redevelopment of the Retlaw Theatre property.

The $2.3 million project calls for transforming the 89-year-old theater and three adjacent buildings into a mixed-use development that will include retail and office space, and 10 market-rate apartments. The redevelopment is expected to have a significant impact on the character and viability of downtown as the property has been largely vacant for nearly two decades.

“WEDC is pleased to assist the City of Fond du Lac with this redevelopment project, which will renovate a vacant deteriorating building in the heart of downtown,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead development organization. “A vibrant downtown area is crucial to the city’s overall economic vitality, and this project has the potential to attract more businesses and jobs downtown.”

The awarding of $400,000 grant to the city was approved this week by a WEDC management committee. Contracts still need to be signed before the grant can be formally awarded.

The funding is part of WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program, which supports community development and redevelopment efforts—primarily in downtown areas—throughout the state.

“The city is appreciative of WEDC’s programs that invest in economic development opportunities in communities like Fond du Lac,” said City Manager Joe Moore. “WEDC’s collaboration and partnership through the Community Development Investment Grant will contribute toward the redevelopment of our downtown.”

Louie Lange, president of The Commonwealth Companies, which is the developer of the project added: “Our sincerest thank you to the City of Fond du Lac and the WEDC for their vision and support. This grant will help us breathe new life into a building that has seen better days, but now will surely continue to be an asset to our downtown.”

The Commonwealth Companies will renovate a three-story building with Main Street frontage to house its corporate offices, retail space and the apartments. A dance studio will continue to be operate in that building. The theater and two adjoining smaller theater will be razed and replaced with a surface parking lot.

The development is expected to directly create five new jobs at Commonwealth’s corporate offices. Once fully developed, the project also is expected to generate about $25,000 in additional property taxes for the community and add more than $600,000 to Fond du Lac’s tax base.

About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter  @_InWisconsin to learn more.