STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) – A judge will rule February 10th whether Stevens Point can move forward with plans to redevelop the CenterPoint Marketplace mall.
Judge Thomas Flugaur heard testimony Tuesday from the city and the former mall owner, Third Court, but put off a ruling to give both sides time to finish arguing their case in written briefs.
Third Court has sued the city to stop it from turning part of the mall into the new downtown campus for Mid-State Technical College. It wants Flugaur to issue a temporary injunction preventing the city from demolishing the mall until the lawsuit is settled.
“We don't have any planned demolition between now and February 10th,” city attorney Louis Molepske said.
The city condemned the mall in October through eminent domain.
Flugaur scheduled a two-day trial in April to decide whether the condemnation was legal.
Attorneys for Third Court declined comment following the hearing.
Scott Williams, a real estate appraiser hired by Third Court, testified Tuesday that the city created the mall's blight and that the mall does not meet the definition of blight in state statutes.
“It is not blighted,” he said. “It could use a bit of sprucing up but that's not a lot different than other houses.”
But former community development director John Gardner disagreed.
The mall is a “detriment not only to itself but to the rest of the downtown. It is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the city,” he said.
City officials face a shrinking window in which they can begin the redevelopment. The city secured a $750,000 state grant to help pay for the project, but the grant required the mall to be converted into a college campus by February 2013.
State officials have verbally agreed to extend the grant's sunset through the spring of 2013 but have not done so in writing, said community development director Michael Ostrowski.