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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NE Times: Mayfair Civic to host zoning meeting for Devon Theater

North­east Times
The May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation settled two old zon­ing is­sues dur­ing the group’s monthly meet­ing on May 18, but a much big­ger one may be just get­ting star­ted.
MCA lead­ers an­nounced that the group will hear a po­ten­tially con­tro­ver­sial zon­ing case in­volving the Devon Theat­er at a spe­cial meet­ing on June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the May­fair Com­munity Cen­ter, 2990 Saint Vin­cent St. In short, a church group is seek­ing city per­mits to set up re­li­gious ser­vices, a day­care cen­ter and a food bank in the 70-year-old theat­er once known at the “Dirty Devon” be­cause of the por­no­graph­ic films that showed there.
The days of porn at the Devon are long gone. With busi­ness at the single-screen ven­ue dwind­ling in the late 1970s, the op­er­at­ors began show­ing adult fea­tures. Neigh­bors ran the skin flicks out of town a few years later.
But that doesn’t mean today’s com­munity lead­ers want a church oc­cupy­ing an an­chor prop­erty in the middle of May­fair’s busi­ness dis­trict. Speak­ing at last week’s meet­ing, MCA Pres­id­ent Donny Smith re­por­ted that the church bought the site late last year from a real es­tate in­vestor who had ac­quired it a few months earli­er. The same in­vestor holds the mort­gage on the prop­erty, Smith said.
City re­cords show that the King­dom Life Chris­ti­an Cen­ter bought it for $500,000 in Decem­ber. The prop­erty is as­sessed at $1.78 mil­lion. The land is more than one-third an acre, with the build­ing foot­print cov­er­ing most of that.
Joe De­Fe­lice, the zon­ing chair­man and leg­al coun­sel for the civic as­so­ci­ation as well as the board chair­man of the May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, noted that the CDC has been try­ing to get cer­tain types of prop­erty uses re­stric­ted on the av­en­ue in an ef­fort to pro­mote an ec­lect­ic mix of re­tail that will at­tract vis­it­ors. Re­li­gious ser­vices, day­care cen­ters and food banks are three of those uses that are less than ideal, De­Fe­lice said.
The CDC has long been a key play­er in re­devel­op­ing the Devon. With the help of state fund­ing in the mid-2000s, the CDC spent mil­lions to buy and re­hab­il­it­ate the old theat­er in­to a mod­ern per­form­ing arts cen­ter with the latest au­dio-visu­al tech­no­logy. Res­id­ent pro­du­cers staged sev­er­al shows there in 2009 and ’10 be­fore the CDC lost its pub­lic fund­ing due to re­ces­sion­ary budget cuts and sur­rendered the theat­er to Be­ne­fi­cial Bank.
Ac­cord­ing to the civic as­so­ci­ation, the re­li­gious group is already con­duct­ing ser­vices and host­ing con­certs in the theat­er pending zon­ing ap­prov­al.
In un­re­lated busi­ness, the MCA voted not to op­pose two old zon­ing ap­plic­a­tions. 
At 2000 McKin­ley St., the own­er wants to con­vert a gar­age in­to a cook­ing fa­cil­ity for third-party cater­ers. There will be no food con­sump­tion or take-out busi­ness on-site. At 6300 Frank­ford Ave., the own­er of a gas sta­tion and mini-mart wants to in­stall a deep fry­er so he can sell hot chick­en wings.
• Ruthanne Mad­way, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the May­fair CDC, re­por­ted that her or­gan­iz­a­tion is “in the home stretch” of es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness im­prove­ment dis­trict along Frank­ford Av­en­ue and ad­join­ing blocks that will al­low mer­chants to be­ne­fit from pub­lic grants and oth­er pro­grams. The CDC is also host­ing a farm­er’s mar­ket on the 3500 block of Ry­an Ave. every oth­er Sunday from May 31 through Oct. 18.
• Mia Hylan, co-chair of the May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground and an aide to state Rep. John Taylor, in­vited res­id­ents to May­fair Com­munity Night on May 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the May­fair Com­munity Cen­ter. Taylor will dis­trib­ute in­form­a­tion about seni­or rent re­bates.
• Two city traffic en­gin­eers presen­ted sev­er­al pro­pos­als for the in­stall­a­tion of a left turn lane on east­bound Cottman Av­en­ue at Row­land Av­en­ue. Prob­lem is, space is so tight at the in­ter­sec­tion that a dozen or more curb­side park­ing spaces could be lost. 
Neigh­bors didn’t like any of the ideas. The pro­ject re­mains in the design phase. ••
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