Theresa Abel

Theresa Abel

The Abel Contemporary Gallery hopes to open in downtown Stoughton next month, and it has asked the city for some help in getting a grant to pay for repairs.

Gallery owner Theresa Abel told the Redevelopment Authority (RDA) she’s pushed well past its renovation budget and has at least $100,000 of work to do before moving in. She pointed to the roof and HVAC systems as being particularly costly.

The RDA agreed to help, and it approved spending up to $1,500 for consultant Gary Becker to help the gallery with a grant application. His assistance will be limited to 10 hours of work helping to edit the application and coordinating with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the city for necessary approvals.

The gallery is eyeing a Community Development Investment grant from the WEDC, but those grants are only available to redevelopment and community development authorities, Becker wrote in a memo to the RDA.

The gallery, which Abel owns with her husband Tim O’Neill, opened in 1987 in Paoli. The couple, who are both artists, purchased the historic tobacco warehouse at 524 E. Main St. last July after learning the gallery would no longer be able to remain in the unincorporated town south of Verona.

RDA members expressed support for the business and what it would bring to the city. The only reservation appeared to be whether the RDA could be on the hook for ongoing administrative costs for the loan, which finance director Jamin Friedl said could be avoided with properly written agreements.

Abel said the gallery will have three concurrent exhibits as well as six artist studios with a separate entrance and exit. She said three of those studios, which will be accessible 24/7 and rented by working artists, are already spoken for.

Abel anticipates opening May 24.

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