Commission approves plan to demolish Royal Oak’s Main Art Theatre

Planning commission voted 4-2 in favor of the five-story mix-use development building

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – It’s hard to imagine downtown Royal Oak without the Main Art Theatre, but that could soon be the reality if the building’s owner gets what it wants.

The plan Tuesday (April 12) night is to tear down the iconic theater and replace it with a five-story mixed-use development, which went before the city’s planning commission.

“I laughed and cried in this theater, and I’ve made so many memories,” said Jessica Bultman.

For Bultman, the Main Art Theatre is so much more than a theater.

“To see this theater go after being such a center staple of this community is unfathomable to me,” Bultman said.

To Bultman and many others who share the same feeling as her, the theater is the city’s soul as it is one of the last fixtures of its kind on Main Street in downtown Royal Oak.

Read: Royal Oak community comes together to save historic Main Art Theatre

After 80 years of existence, the theater closed its doors during the pandemic.

What happened next is the reason why people packed a city board meeting Tuesday night.

“We were sick when we heard they wanted to close the theater down, and we want to save it,” said Patricia Kosack.

Save the Main advocates can’t stomach the thought of the building being demolished either, but that’s what’s been proposed by the building’s owners, North Main Square LLC.

“The property at this northeast corner of 11 Mile Road and South Main Street is a premier location in the community,” said a man speaking at the podium.

Developers would like to replace the theater with a 71-foot mixed-use building that would feature commercial, retail, restaurant space, living spaces, parking, and the old marquee sign.

There’s no word yet on when the demolition will take place.

About the Authors:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.