The Village business district in Grosse Pointe is looking at the what could be the most significant development to come its way in decades.
Two proposals, one to build a movie theater, the other to build cultural arts center on St. Clair, behind the block of shops on Kercheval Avenue, are being considered by city officials. Kercheval is The Village's main street.
The movie theater proposal from Emagine Entertainment
, a Michigan-based theater chain that creates what it calls luxury movie-going, seeks to build a 35,000-square-foot, eight-screen theater with room for just over 1,400 patrons.
Emagine has theaters in Royal Oak, Novi, Rochester Hills and four other cities. They are described as upscale with wide, leather seats, bar and wine service and theater ushers. The proposed Grosse Pointe location would be the smallest of Emagine's other theaters.
The other proposal, from Grosse Pointe Theatre, a local nonprofit theater company that now performs in a charming old home that it's outgrown, is for a 400-seat, performance hall. The 45,000-square-foot cultural arts center will offer room for local community and cultural events and offer rentable banquet space.
The Village is a quaint, a three-block stretch of Kercheval Avenue populated by coffee, bagel, bakery, ice cream and clothing chains. Along the stretch are also small business, including a popular toy store, a hardware store, restaurants and pharmacies.
It's a walkable area wrapped in a streetscape of historic-styled lamp posts; an ornate, iron work clock that arches over the avenue; decorative fountains; and benches.
The two proposals are likely to become the subject of dispute between NIMBYs and supporters as well as a question over whether to support a low-key project of a longtime member of the community that will likely draw a local following or to go with an idea that will bring in 500,000 patrons annually.
The proposal comes as the city works to update its master plan. A major component of the update will focus on how to make The Village more appealing to business and make Grosse Pointe more of a draw to metro Detroiters rather than just east siders.
City officials are seeking input from the public on the proposals that could change what some see a as a sleepy suburb, a place that treasures its steady - but declining - and some would say cloistered atmosphere.
Early reaction to the movie theater proposals suggests locals may not like the idea. But with business closings and vacancies more regular in The Village and the city looking to offer entertainment luxuries more common to the west side of metro Detroit, some city officials say it's time to take a fresh look at what Grosse Pointe wants to be, especially as the housing market struggles and prospective home buyers look to live near vibrant business districts. Royal Oak recently saw the opening of an Emagine Theater and it has been a big success.
For more information on the proposals or to share feedback, go to the city's economic development page.
The City’s development and planning staff will be reviewing the proposals and will provide a written report to the city council about each, possibly by June, City Manager Peter Dame says.
The council will hold a public meeting and take public comments on the proposals and the public is invited to discuss "general types of theater uses and/or other types of developments," Dame says, on April 23 at a Master Plan Workshop at 7 p.m. at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
Source: Peter Dame, Grosse Pointe City Manager
Writer: Kim North Shine