Royal Oak commission to vote on future of historic Main Art Theater

Posted at 5:34 AM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 05:34:30-04

(WXYZ) — The future of the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak is hanging in the balance.

The Royal Oak City Planning Commission is expected to decide what's next for the historic theater. Developers have submitted plans to have it demolished, but there has been an outpouring of community support for it to stay.

If the plans from the developers are approved, the location near 11 Mile and Main St. could become a series of restaurants, stories and apartments.

Groups are fighting to keep the theater and say demolishing it would deprive the community of important art from independent filmmakers.

On Saturday, dozens of film fanatics, history buffs and loyal supporters gathered for a protest.

"I know members of this group care deeply about this theater," one person said.

In June 2021, this message was on the marquee: "Landlord kicked us out. It's been a fun ride. - Main Art Crew R.I.P. 1941-2021."

The former owners abruptly closed the venue, saying they were kicked out.

The new owners have submitted the development plans to the commission. They want to turn the property into a five-story mixed-use space to include retail, housing and office space.

"Our goal, short term, is to enter into a lease agreement with the property owners and run this as a community-driven theatre," Jason Krzysiak, the president of Friends of the Main Art, said.

The group said it's vital that independent films always have a home in Royal Oak.

"We have people thanking us for contacting them. because this theater not only supports our love of independent film, but it supports the community," Jane Strunck said.

In the development plans, the marquee would stay intact, but there would be no theater. Developers have not promised but have proposed a micro-cinema be included in the final design.