Royal Oak’s popular Main Art Theater closed permanently in June 2021. It could now be demolished as part of a newly submitted development plan for the site.
Friends of The Main Art, a newly created non-profit organization, tries to save him.
“As a community, we have an opportunity to preserve this important cultural monument and we cannot let it pass without doing all we can to ensure that these films once again light up the Main Art screen,” said said Jason Krzysiak, president of the new nonprofit.
The building’s developer, AF Jonna Management & Development Co., has submitted plans to demolish the theater to make way for a five-story mixed-use building, Royal Oak City Commissioner Sharlan Douglas confirmed to the Free Press. .
Urban planner Doug Hedges said Crain’s Thursday afternoon the mixed-use proposal calls for a new 71-foot building with 9,200 square feet of commercial space for a restaurant and retailer – plus parking on the first floor. The site plan also includes approximately 31,000 square feet of office space on the second floor; the third through fifth floors would include 54 new residential units, Hedges said.
Krzysiak said Friends of the Main Art was in communication with the developer to include a smaller theater that would show similar independent and international films, but the current plan doesn’t show that.
AF Jonna Management & Development Co. could not be reached for comment.
The theater, at 118 N Main St., temporarily closed last April as COVID-19 reduced attendance. Then, a few months later, in June, the familiar Main Art marquee dropped this unexpected message: “The owner kicked us out. It was a fun ride. … RIP 1941-2021.”
The post put the owner in the spotlight. But Todd Fenton, deputy city manager of Royal Oak, said it was tenant Landmark Theaters that terminated its lease with landlord AF Jonna Management & Development Co.
Although Friends of the Main Art is newly formed, Krzysiak said he has more than 1,700 members on Facebook, who “love this theater, who loved the cinematic experience at the Main Art Theater and want to see that preserved. and improved in the 21st century.”
Continued:Closed Main Art Theater in Royal Oak has a group trying to save it
Krzysiak himself has fond memories of the theater.
Although he grew up in Macomb County, he still traveled to Royal Oak to see films at the Main Art Theatre. As a college film student, he said he really appreciated a place to watch “benchmark independent films.”
He loved it so much he bought a house a few blocks away. Then he started taking his kids there.
Krzysiak said his son took him to see “Parasite,” the film that would later win Best Picture at the Oscars, at the cinema.
A Save the Main rally is scheduled for 2 p.m. on April 9 in front of the theater.
The proposal will be discussed at the April 12 meeting of the Royal Oak Planning Commission at 7 p.m.
“I hope there will be enough public support for our efforts that we are included in the decisions that are made on this property,” Krzysiak said. “We really put blood, sweat and tears into this. We want to preserve the legacy of the main art, and ensure that independent film can inhabit Royal Oak for the next 100 years.”
Staff writer Julie Hinds contributed. Contact Emma Stein: [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_emmastein.