Hey Mayfair, What Do You Want to Happen With the Former Devon Theater?
One of Philly’s most popular listings on LoopNet once upon a time, the former Devon Theater building in Mayfair is set to be the center of discussion at a neighborhood zoning meeting next week. The question at hand? Whether area residents are in favor of the plans its owner, the Kingdom Life Christian Center, has in store for it.
According to this post by Mayfair Civic Association President Donny Smith in the meeting’s Facebook event page, Kingdom Life has expressed a desire to use the site as a church, day care facility, and food bank center, the latter of which is currently in operation.
While the neighborhood’s stance is yet to be determined (a vote will be held at the Monday, June 15th meeting), Smith writes that MCA representatives requested the church withdraw their proposed uses during an earlier meeting between the two parties and Councilman Bobby Henon’s office, as similar operations already populate the neighborhood (the following emphasis is ours):
Since Mayfair currently has several Daycare facilities located along Frankford avenue, which Mayfair orgs. are working hard to revitalize, and a Food Bank already in operation at St. Johns church on Tyson avenue, Mayfair representatives asked the Kingdom Life Christian Center to withdraw from using the Devon as a Daycare Facility, or as a Food Bank Center. During the meeting, Mayfair representatives also asked Kingdom Life Christian Center to allow the Devon to become a polling location, to keep the Devon marquee in place, and to allow community usage of the Devon (school plays etc) up to 12 times a year.
Smith goes on to say Kingdom Life agreed to have the Devon be used as a polling location twice a year, as well as to keep the marquee intact. Their petition for community usage “12 times a year,” however, was deemed excessive by the church, which simply “refused” the group’s request to have the church withdraw its proposed uses.
A Kingdom Life rep. could not be reached for comment, but MCA Chairman Joe DeFelice tells us he’d like to see the Devon Theatre be the site of “things that will grow commerce” and would rather not see “all three” of the church’s proposed uses happen for the reasons stated above.
As it happens, the church must seek a Special Exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment if it wishes to move forward with its plans. They go before the zoning board June 23rd. “Should they get it and we appeal or don’t appeal,” says DeFelice, “we always look to compromise.”