By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The former St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, at Goodell and Second streets, which has been closed since 2013, may soon be redeveloped into a community education and 300-seat performing arts center.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is negotiating the sale of the property, for $1, to the Downriver Actors Guild, which is currently housed in the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue at 2656 Biddle Ave.
The City Council accepted the planned development application submitted by the entities at its Jan. 11 meeting, and forwarded it to the Planning Commission for review and a public hearing.
The next Planning Commission meeting is Jan. 21, but the submission deadline was Dec. 21, so it is likely it will be reviewed at the Feb. 18 meeting, which has a Jan. 18 submission deadline.
The proposal includes both exterior and interior renovations, with windows and glass doors added to the north side of the building, facing Goodell Street, with a new decorative panel above a new canopy. The existing ramp and guardrail would be repurposed.
In addition to transforming the worship space into a 300-seat auditorium, the three levels would include classroom and rehearsal space, dance studios, a green room (for performers waiting to go onstage), a sound studio and a scenic shop. The building would also provide storage space for costumes, props and sets.
The grounds include space for 49 parking spaces south of the building, six of which would be handicap accessible, and 14 spots in the north lot, of which one would be handicap accessible. The area also has street parking.
City Engineer Gregory Mayhew said in a Dec. 21 memo to the Planning Commission that while the 63 off-street parking spaces do meet the needs of the community education portion of the plan, it does not meet the requirements of a 300-seat theater, even with the two dozen nearby on-street parking spaces, which would be a zoning violation.
He also noted the need for obscuring walls and the shielding of lights in the parking area from nearby residences.
Mayhew said additional green space is required for water runoff from the parking areas.
For more information about the Downriver Actors Guild, go to the downriveractorsguild.net.