Neighbors Vote In Favor of Church at Devon Theater, But with Provisos

"It's a big deal. It means a lot to a lot of people."

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

Monday has come and gone, and with it (at least for the time being) left any prospective alternative uses for the Devon Theater that could have potentially encouraged significant revitalization along the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor entrance to Mayfair.

Mayfair Civic Association Chairman Joe DeFelice tells us the Special Zoning Meeting that took place June 15th, an almost two-hour long assemblage held for the purpose of informing residents and MCA members of Kingdom Life Christian Center’s proposed uses for the property, ended with a vote in favor of not opposing Kingdom Life’s plans.

The meeting, which DeFelice says brought in around 250 residents, counted Councilman Bobby Henon and staff, MCA members, and Kingdom Life’s Pastor Danette Rey, along with her attorney and an associate, in attendance. The vote in favor of Kingdom Life’s proposed church, day care, and food bank came with the following provisos, according to DeFelice:

  • Keep façade
  • Allow Kingdom Life to use the property as a church
  • Establish parking agreements in writing with area businesses and the nearby Ethan Allen School
  • Limit day care proposal to an after school program (from September to June, between 3-6pm) and summer camp (beginning after July 4 and ending before August 20; to be capped at 21 students)
  • Eliminate food pantry proposal, but convert it into a food delivery service in perpetuity (capped at 30 families, and to be reviewed in one year)
  • Allow community usage of the building four times a year
  • Have an open house for the community
  • Would lose Special Exception and revert back to original usage if there is a default on the mortgage or is sold to another church

The meeting’s discussion also called for having storefront input, restricting certain business from renting storefronts, and requiring businesses renting out storefronts to pay into the Business Improvement District at a prorated amount.

“It’s a big deal. It means a lot to a lot of people,” DeFelice says of the interest surrounding the Devon and Frankford Avenue’s steps toward a commercial renaissance. Now, whether the former theater and other properties along the avenue go on to operate as crowd-pleasing  commercial spaces in the future is left to be seen.

In an email, Grey Lodge Pub owner and Mayfair Business Association President Mike Scotese tells us he had “made a couple of offers about 12 months ago” for the Devon, and had even been kicking around the idea of turning it into a brew pub before Kingdom Life acquired it.

“We would still be interested, but $1 million is out of reach for us, plus an additional $300k to make it more viable,” he said when asked if he’d still be open to securing the Devon if the opportunity presented itself. “If a brewpub wasn’t too much more than an R [-Liquor] license that would be my preference,” he added.

Kingdom Life is set to appear before the Zoning Board for their Special Exception request June 23rd.