GREEN BAY – A prominent corner in downtown Green Bay has sat lifeless for about 15 years, but that is about to change.
The plan is to renovate the former Daily Planet into ‘Backstage at the Meyer.’ It calls for theater banquet space on the first floor, with office space above.
The building is connected to the Meyer Theatre, on the corner of Walnut and Washington Streets.
Construction is expected to start in either March or April, with a goal of being ready by the end of the year.
The downtown corner hasn’t been one city leaders have been proud of.
“It’s the definition of blight,” said Jeff Mirkes, the president of the Meyer Theatre’s board of directors. “It’s not what belongs there.”
On the theater’s 84th birthday, its supporters unveiled its future neighbor, Backstage at the Meyer.
“We’ve been looking for this for ten years,” said Ken Wachter, the president of PMI Entertainment Group. “We’ve had a lot of starts and stops over the years with the Daily Planet, but now to see what it’s going to become and they’re going to put a shovel in the ground soon is a real enhancement to the Meyer Theatre.”
PMI manages the Meyer Theatre and will do the same for the banquet space.
Let Me Be Frank Productions is just one group that plans to reap the benefits. It already holds 100 shows a year at the Meyer.
“It’s a destination more, because you have the ticket and you have the services,” said Frank Hermans. “You have the food, you have the beverage and you’ve got the show.”
Backstage at the Meyer will also have a small stage. It will hold shows that don’t make sense to be held on the larger stage at the Meyer.
“It allows us to book both venues at the same time,” said Wachter.
The project is estimated to cost $3 million. It will fall under a recently launched $4.5 million capital campaign for the complex.
“We’re off to a good start already,” said Mirkes. “The campaign has some real confidence by some generous citizens who’ve stepped up and said they want to be a part of it, they want to support it.”
Theater officials aren’t saying how much money they’ve already raised. However, they say the Meyer family, which gave $1.5 million to restore the theatre in 2000, has already stepped up with a donation.