Grosse Pointe Receives 2 Theater Proposals

The proposals both target the parking lot area behind the middle block in the Village that houses Caribou Coffee. One is by a corporate entity and one is by a local non-profit.

The has received two proposals for theaters for the parking lot on St. Clair Street between and , City Manager Pete Dame announced Tuesday in a press release.

The City planning and development employees have begun reviewing the proposals, both of which are available on the City's website along with the renderings.

Emagine Entertainment has proposed a 35,000 square-foot building that would house eight screens for first-run movies. This company has six locations throughout Michigan, five of which are in the metro Detroit area.

has proposed a 40,000 square-foot cultural arts center with a 400-seat theater for live productions and a banquet area. The theatre company is currently housed on Fisher Road and performs many of its productions at the .

Dame's press release provides a rough timeline of how the proposals will be handled:

  • the theatre proposals and other development will be part of the discussion at next week's first public hearing on the upcoming revision of the City's master plan
  • city planning employees will analyze the proposals and prepare a written report to the council
  • council will host a public meeting to gather feedback and thoughts from the public after the city employees have the reports complete

A specific date has not yet been set but an estimated timeframe is June for the completion of the report and public hearing, according to Dame's release.

City officials encourage those who want to offer comment or thoughts about the proposals now to email the city: city@grossepointecity.org or to contact Dame directly at 313-885-5800 or through his email.

Should either of the proposals come to fruition, the development would happen essentially across the street from the future home of the Neighborhood Club. The final beam for the frame of the Neighborhood Club's new building was installed last week and construction is projected to be finished by January, but is weather dependent.

It would be the third large-scale project in the Village in a matter of a few years including the Neighborhood Club, which is zoned as part of the Village, and Kroger. 

Ted April 19, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Something just occurred to me as I read more of the posts. How big would the business impact be if the Grosse Pointe Theater proposal were adopted? They're already doing business at the War Memorial. So wouldn't it just be a shift of an existing business from one venue to another? But the movie theater proposal would bring a completely new business to the community. That would be nice, wouldn't it? I think the best solution would be to find a way for the site to support both needs (theater & movies), but perhaps at a scaled back level. Parking certainly need to be addressed. As far as the police question goes - I have every confidence in the greater GP Police Force(s) to continue protecting us & fight crime.
Bob Carr April 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I strongly recommend that readers follow the link in the story above to the City's website, where the two proposals are available for detailed study (alternatively, you can paste http://www.grossepointecity.org/departments/index.asp?DeptID=8 into your browser). Please note that the City’s Master Planning process meeting will take place this Monday, April 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. A workshop will also be held at that time "to obtain community input on what citizens would like to see for their City and Village in the future." Be sure also to provide your comments one way or the other to the City at city@grossepointecity.org. You can also contact or to contact Pete Dame directly at 313-885-5800 or through his email at pjdame@grossepointecity.org.
Dean Dauphinais April 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I'm probably in the minority on this one, but I'm not a fan of full beer, wine, and cocktail service in a neighborhood movie theater.
Linda April 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Neither proposal is the best use of this resource. The Emagine proposal is too similar to the Star Gratiot, which attracts many problems. The GP Theater proposal abandons the GP War Memorial, which provides a theater and banquet facities. Furthermore, as has been recently reported, the movie theater business has declined considerably; making this an investment in a stagnant (at best) industry. Mr. Dame, don't accept either proposal.
Bill IV April 20, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I'm split on this. Yes the Village needs to do something but i remember the old Esquire on Jefferson. I saw Coccoon there way back in the day with my mom, cousin and little brother. I was 10 years old at the time. The 40's clinking, weed smoking in the back prompted my mom to complain to management. Long story short, the manager locked the doors so we could run to our car without being killed by the people we complained about. That's my last memory of watching a movie in Grosse Pointe.
Joe Bologna April 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I love sarcasm.
Joe Bologna April 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Jason, you are correct. Nobody would ever think of patronizing a restaurant after seeing a movie at the Emagine Theater (7 days a week no less). Yet local stores, like DaWood, would have a boom of business from the local fashionistas buying new outfits to go to the GP Theater (maybe once a month). And what if the movie starts drawing <gasp> black people?
Joe Bologna April 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I hope Emagine has included a bowling alley too.
Emily Gordon April 21, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Yes. My thoughts exactly. This would not be good for Grosse Pointe in general, and even worse for those who live close to the Village. Yeah, it would increase foot traffic in the village, and people "window shopping", but what about increased shoplifting? Increased loitering? Other crimes? Lack of parking? Grosse Pointe is like a beautiful island in the sea of despair that is the east side of Detroit. Just think about what such a big commercial attraction would really bring to Grosse Pointe. Revenue, yes, but also a host of other negative issues. Money isn't everything. There have to be better businesses for GP than a big movie theater right in the middle of the Village. I just don't see the Emagine proposal working for anyone other than the owners of the theater. This even being a possibility would make me livid if I still lived there... it's just another sign that GP isn't what it used to be. I hope it never happens.
NDR April 21, 2012 at 08:21 AM
I think the Emagine theater would be a nightmare. As nice as it would be to have easy access to first run movies nearby I think the potential issues that would arise outweigh the benefits. I have been up to Birmingham many times. Every time there are large groups of kids from surrounding communities loitering outside the theater causing issues. Not exactly what I would want for my neighborhood.
Cindy April 21, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Very good point. I agree 100% !!! I have a 12 year old that is always bored because all there is to do is just "walk around" the village. She mentions that it's a very pretty community but there is nothing to do. What will keep her here when it's time to start a family? There are many beautiful cities with beautiful parks, great education and quality public safety elseware in the country. People will move out as they get older (just as Chad did to Birmingham) because there is more to do in other areas. For people who are worried about crime coming to our area because of the Emagine theater.....have you ever been to Birmingham's Palladium theater? I have, and it's very nice. I bet they draw crowds from other communities all up and down Woodward Avenue, including Pontiac. I have not heard of any high crime problems coming to Birmingham as a result. Chad have you heard of any problems as a result of the Palladium?
Leslie Curtis April 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
There's really not much to say other than Grosse Pointe needs the theater to bring NEW LIFE to the area. Stop living in the past and worrying about crime. Most Detroiter's fear crossing over the boarder to GP anyway. GP is a classic traditional community and there comes a time when you have to catch up with the present and future times and I believe a theater (maybe not as large as others) would bring the necessary foot traffic as well as provide a boost to the economy for the surrounding businesses making Grosse Pointe not only a classy place but a place where young professional families would love to settle in bringing energy, youth, and a modern upscale look of family life that would benefit all area's of "The Pointe's"
Chad Bateman April 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Cindy- Other than some teenage kids "loitering," around the Palladium, there have been no issues or increased crime. The Birmingham Police do an excellent job of patrolling the theater area and tell kids to keep moving if they sense the crowd around the theater is getting too large; much like the GP Police tell teenie-boppers on any given weekend or summer night in the Village. It is just so sad that a beautiful community like GP has no one walking around downtown past 6 pm. GP has so much potential but many of its residents want it to stay boring.
Don Richardville April 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
7 and mack gets my vote
Don Richardville April 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I agree, parking is already an issue.
Adam April 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
The Village used to be a unique differentiator and source of pride for residents of the Pointes. The notion of a walkable, stylized "downtown" within a residential area was once a novel concept. But over the past decade other communities have caught up, while many of the Village's main offerings (Borders, Gap, HWP, Burger Pointe, Jacobsons) have closed. I think this is a defining moment for "Downtown Grosse Pointe." I challenge residents to not act upon fear, rather embrace opportunity. Besides, what is the more pressing fear? Attracting supposed "undesirables" by developing our downtown, or NOT attracting anybody (or even retaining our own) by NOT developing our downtown? I'd rather have nice things and share them with our neighboring communities than not have anything nice at all. (For the record, I don't consider redundant community centers or mature women's clothing stores "nice things"). To those who ask "why not move to Royal Oak if you want a vibrant downtown?" I ask "why not move to a solitary cabin in the woods if you want to avoid outsiders?" There is a balance. Let's use this community's good taste, sense of history and relative wealth to build a downtown that we can be proud of again and that will serve the next generation of Grosse Pointers well.
Adam April 24, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I agree Leslie, but like children, we can't have nice things because we haven't learned to share. It's really sad that we'd rather deny our own community than "risk" welcoming any newcomers. Sure, a movie theatre may attract a poorly behaved teenager from another city (God knows we don't have ANY of those in Grosse Pointe), but, as you point out, it could also be part of a package that attracts young professionals looking to build a life and a raise a family in metro Detroit. Forget a luxury theatre complex. Too risky. While we're at it, maybe we should also drain Lake St Clair--that could attract "outsiders" as well. (/sarcasm)
Alison April 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Well, currently there is NO traffic so this would most likely liven the ghost town we call downtown.
Kate April 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I remember the Esquire, the Woods Theater, the Punch and Judy, the Beacon East, the Eastland Theaters, the Alger and the Shores theaters........ if those seven couldn't make it work, what is different about this movie theater proposal that will make it profitable, safe, clean and bring more paying customers to the shopping areas?
Leslie Curtis April 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
That's what you pay the police for...Protect and serve this could even help fund more officers to work during peak hours besides the police officers would probably like the excitement every so often because the only officer that seems to be grabbing the headlines is the K-9 dog(officer) .There is a economic juggernaut for the surrounding communities.
Leslie Curtis April 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Well maybe you should have everyone in their homes dispose of the beer, wine and cocktails they drink everyday. .REALLY? There's package stores all around the points and you are worried about a theater that requires a wristband and identification to purchase a cocktail?
Chris K April 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Does anyone remember the Esquire, Woods and Punch and Judy? Why did they close? Does anyone remember? If the Grosse Pointes couldn't keep one of those establishments open, what makes the developers believe we can do it now? We are a lot older community now and the Park has its own movie. Let the War Memorial sponsor art films on a weekly basis. Give the GP Theater the chance to develop the site.
Dean Dauphinais April 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Yes, REALLY, Leslie. Watching movies in a crowd of people who are drinking beer, wine, and cocktails just isn't something that appeals to me. And having kids in a movie theater around adults who are drinking beer, wine, and cocktails appeals to me even less. I may be biased. I'm the father of a recovering addict and my wife and I quit drinking nearly four years ago to--as the family counselor put it--be the change we want to see in our son. ID or wristband or not, I just don't like the idea of a movie theater that's open to all ages serving drinks. Why not serve drinks at school sporting events, too? Just require ID and a wristband. Lastly,if you look at my earlier post, you'll notice I said, "I'm probably in the minority on this one..."
Ted April 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Very well put Adam
Chad Bateman April 25, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Leslie, this was perfectly stated.
Katie April 25, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Kevin, Don. Wow. Attractive comment for 'neighbor's' in the North.
Wendy April 25, 2012 at 01:18 PM
The Emagine Theatre is just unattractive though. Why not have a better design? Why not raise the bar on good architecture in the Village? Also, in response to Chad's comments that there has not been an increase in crime in Birmingham, that's just untrue. There were two articles in this weeks' Detroit News about gun violence in Birmingham. One of the articles also described an 18 year old boy loitering around the movie theatre with a loaded M1 rifle. This sounds crazy, but it's true. See the links below. http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120423/METRO02/204230338/Birmingham-grapples-crime?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120423/OPINION03/204230335 Birmingham has the money to pay for extra police patrolling their downtown. Does GP City? I want a theatre, but it should be (a) attractive and (b) sized appropriately to meet our needs.
Chad Bateman April 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM
True enough, but if you want to play this game, my family friend, Jane Bashara, was brutally murdered in GP recently and her killer is still at large and has not been charged.
Mark April 26, 2012 at 10:19 PM
It would be nice to have something to help bring some vitality to the area. And for all of the whiners talking about the crime of LOITERING my god no wonder there is a reputation of GP being an aging community losing its youth. Step up policing if you really feel this would draw more criminal activity. It is an incredibly small downtown area that would not be too hard to step up surveillance on. Get it together people!
Adam April 27, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Wendy, I very much agree with your first point re: design. If an Emagine Theatre was constructed in the Village, I'd hope that the architecture and landscaping would receive special consideration. The proposal from Emgaine states that the current site plan and design are "intended to form the basis of further discussion with the City regarding design issues." I trust our city to get this right. Also, the site isn't even on Kercheval and construction of the theatre may end up actually extended the streetscape theme along St. Clair into a pedestrian-friendly "European style walkway" in front of the theatre, behind some of the businesses facing Kercheval. So, the question isn't so much if the proposed building design keeps up with everything else on Kercheval (which I'd argue it does anyways, ex: Kroger), but if we'd rather leave the back of these buildings as trash dumpsters and cracked blacktop, or introduce a small luxury theatre and paved walkway. One of those options sounds considerably more appealing to me. As for the concerns over crime, I don't think pointing to 1 or 2 news stories provides enough evidence. Besides, the alternative development plan is to build another parking structure on this lot. I'd surmise that a parking structure could attract as much or more illicit activity as a luxury movie theater would.


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