The Star Southfield cinema is to be converted into a church

The once popular but now closed Star Southfield cinema is set to be converted into a new campus for Triumph Church.

The expansion of the church’s six-site base is being driven by the needs in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Rev. Solomon Kinloch Jr., who has been at Triumph Church since 1998.

“We saw the need,” he said on Tuesday. “We didn’t just want to have a place where we could continue to celebrate services. The plan is to not only turn it into a worship center but to use most of the space for a children’s area, a student area and also a community space where communities can come in and use the space and also receive services like support with transportation, medical support, financial support, rental support, job skills training, a pregnancy center and a counseling center.

Converting contemporary cinemas to other uses can be difficult due to their sloped floors and layout. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2020. But Stan Robertson, president of Lubbock, Texas-based Halo Architects Inc., which is working on the Star Southfield project, said the theater is a good fit for the church’s needs.

“Shockingly, there are far fewer demonstrators of walls on this project than one might think,” Robertson said, noting that current plans call for a 1,600-seat house of worship, a 350-seat chapel and a community hall in the expansive main lobby that could another 200 or so people fit. Some of the individual theaters would be combined to create larger spaces, while others would install new walls to create smaller ones.

He also said that the large number of parking spaces and access points are beneficial to the needs of the church.

Bloomberg noted in 2020 that some theater reuses have included turning one in Arizona into medical offices, while another in Flagstaff was converted “into perhaps the most creative automotive department in the country”. Locally, there were plans to convert Goodrich Quality 16 in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor, into self-storage, but those efforts fell through in February. MLive.com reports.

Although movie theaters can be difficult to repurpose, a whole host of other properties can become churches, said Robertson, whose firm focuses on church design. “We converted Super-Kmarts, Walmarts, bowling alleys and ice rinks into churches,” he said.

The Southfield Planning Commission is expected to consider approving the site plan for the former 20 Screen Theater at 25333 W. 12 Mile Road at its meeting later this month after a decision on the matter was delayed last week, officials with the city‘s planning department said.

The Church would purchase the property in a deal with its current owner, EPR Properties of Kansas City, Mo.
The rehabilitation budget has not yet been determined, Kinloch said. He said construction will begin in about a year and take 18 to 24 months. The contractor is Detroit-based The Means Group, he said.

The theater, which opened in 1997, was last known as the AMC Star Southfield 20. The building, which covers 22 acres, is approximately 184,500 square feet and will seat more than 6,000 people.

AMC closed all of its theaters on March 17, 2020 due to the pandemic, but would not reopen the Southfield theater due to an expired lease The Detroit Free Press reported in April 2020. When it was built 25 years ago at an estimated $40 million, according to a Detroit News report.

Triumph Church has locations at 15801 Joy Road and 2760 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit; 19801 Vernier in Harper Woods; 1657 Broadway Blvd. in flint; 15600 JL Hudson Dr in Southfield, a location expected to remain open; and 16115 Beck Road in Northville Township.

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