ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The tearing down of the beloved Main Art Theatre in Downtown Royal Oak is effectively underway after the theater’s sign was officially removed Thursday.
The iconic Main Art Theatre sign was taken down from the building that has been a community staple for 80 years until closing due to the pandemic. Now, the building owner has plans to demolish the theater and turn it into a mixed-used space.
In April, the Royal Oak planning commission approved the theater owner’s plan to level the building and replace it with a five-story mix-used space that will include commercial, retail and restaurant space, in addition to living spaces and parking. The site, located at 11 Mile Road and Main Street, will also include the theater’s old marquee sign, officials said.
Around the time it was announced that the theater was closing for good, dozens of theatergoers gathered to honor the venue and its history.
“We realized that we had such a group together, just under the marquee,” said resident Jason Kruzsiak. “There was about 50 of us that evening, and we decided that we had to do something about it.”
The group of Main Art Theatre supporters said they met with the theater owner to discuss keeping the business operational as a community-run theater, but Kryzsiak said the owner instead chose to stick with their plan to redevelop the site.
Save the Main advocates claimed the long-standing theater was more than just a theater to them -- they saw it as an intrinsic piece of the city, as it was one of the last fixtures of its kind on Main Street in Downtown Royal Oak. But, despite the opposition from community members hoping to save the decades-old theater, the building has been approved for demolition and will be torn down.
It is unknown when the actual demolition will occur.