Let the Games Begin!

John H. FischerBy Dr. Rent

There are so many topics I could choose to write about this week, based on comments made both on this blog and the Daily Herald’s. But this is not my blog and although I have enough topics to do daily posts for the next month, I want to stay with my one-per-week “official” contribution. And I am sure that Bill doesn’t need me monopolizing this either. This was the post that I was originally going to do, I learned long ago, stick with first instinct.

One of the things I get to experience as a landlord with commercial properties is that often I am the first to know about new businesses coming into town. And now and then, we get to participate in the process. I am personally excited to have played a role in not only a new business opening soon, but a new kind of business.

Vertigo Gaming will be opening soon on a building we have on 1st Avenue here in Wausau. When the owners (the Forbes) first approached us, we had reservations. We are somewhat selective on whom we will rent to, and we will not be the landlords for bars or video arcades (based on bad experiences). It was not until after meeting with them for a few hours that I discovered this is not an arcade.

Back in my army days, I was an active player of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). Although I have picked up the game again recently after a 15-year absence, a great deal has changed with multi-player roll-playing games. So much of it is computerized.

Many kids (and even adults) playing now are playing on home computers. Maybe it is the same computer mom and dad use so it doesn’t have the processor in it for hard core gaming. Maybe they have a decent gaming computer, but they are sharing bandwidth with other users in the house. The goal of Vertigo is to give these gamers a safe place where they can get online, and do their gaming on some state-of-the-art equipment at bandwidths not available to the average home user.

(For those of us old-school types, they have in their business plan an area for pen & paper gamers and even old video game systems such as Atari and Colecovision.)

Their new location is actually an old shoe factory. This building that I called “the jolly green giant” because it was three stories tall, no windows, and green steel siding has been reborn in the past few years. It has been the home of Bethesda Thrift Shop for decades and home to the Tea Palace for nearly a year. Now it will be home to a truly new kind of business… bringing a great new life to what used to be an eyesore.

The path here was not easy for the Forbes, including 4 separate hurdles thrown at them by the City. But having attended the meetings of the Plan Commission, the Health and Safety Committee and the Council, the City agrees this unique business should have a chance to prove itself and has been given unanimous approvals at all levels. The last hurdle before they can open their doors is City approval of the “Entertainment Facility” license. This is a new license in Wausau and is administered similar to a liquor license. Vertigo was the first new business to require this. So they are leading the way in more ways than one.

Vertigo Gaming Center — WELCOME TO WAUSAU. Just one more thing that we (as a community) have to offer.

Dr. Rent.

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3 responses to “Let the Games Begin!

  1. Dr. Rent –

    I can remember the old shoe factory on First Avenue. I knew people that worked there. It’s nice to see the building used. Your article brought a question to mind. Do you think that the obstacles placed by the city have to do with the type of business it is? Particularly , the last one concerning the new kind of permit. Do you think that other preexisting “entertainment facilities’ will have to get a permit? And, how does the city define an “entertainment facility”? It seems to me that there are a lot of places where people go to be entertained – the Grand Theater is one – in a variety of ways. I can see why you, as a landlord and a businessman, would approach a Tenant like this with reservations. But, if you were willing to do it, why would the city go so far as to create a new hurdle? Could you explain a little about what an “entertainment facility” is, according to the city. Thanks.

  2. The first hurdle (which had to be cleared twice, once by committee and once by council) was a conditional use. Because this use is not specifically permitted, the City held a public hearing where all neighboring property owners and neighboring residents were notified… and many expressed their concerns… The City felt that based on our (mine as landlord and Forbes as business owner) responses… they recommended approval to council (hurdle 1) and the council agreed (hurdle 2).

    This new license was not created just for the Forbes. Apparently, it has been on the books for a few months, its just Vertigo was the first new place since the creation of the ordinance. The license regulates hours and sets other parameters.

    We learned about this shortly before the public hearing for the conditional use. Therefore, I don’t know anything about it and havent had time to get more info off the city’s web page. I don’t know what is all included under entertainment facility, what problems prompted this new requirement, or whether existing facilities are all grandfathered or if they will eventually need a license.

    The Health and Safety committee recommended issuing the permit (hurdle 3) and the final hurdle will be the council signing off.

  3. I am also a player of D&D (on paper; the computerized version just isn’t the same), at 15 years old, along with a good number of video games, and I personally think it is a great idea, considering not many kid/teen friendly areas have been in Wausau for a while. I fully intend to make use of the overnight lock-ins advertised, and, with some luck, possibly working there as a summer job.

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