Jan 10, 2023 - News

Scoop: Winans' Perfecting Church project under fresh scrutiny

The unfinished new Perfecting Church at Woodward and 7 Mile.

The unfinished Perfecting Church project at Woodward and 7 Mile. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Perfecting Church's stalled cathedral project — announced in 2003 — is facing a city crackdown that could result in a public nuisance lawsuit, according to a letter from the city obtained exclusively by Axios.

Why it matters: The well-known unfinished church at the corner of Woodward Avenue and 7 Mile has impeded development at the prominent intersection.

  • "It's a waste of land. They could be doing something else with that," resident Craig Cobb told Axios while waiting for the bus near the church yesterday. He suggested the property could be used for low-income housing.

The big picture: The pressure on Perfecting Church and Pastor Marvin Winans — a member of famed gospel group The Winans — is part of a broader effort from the city to force prominent landowners to comply with its property maintenance laws.

  • In November, the city signed a property maintenance agreement to settle outstanding blight tickets and require future upkeep of nearly 2,000 parcels owned by the Moroun family.

What happened: The city's top lawyer, Conrad Mallett, sent a letter to the church Friday demanding a litany of inspection reports and financial records to shed light on the property's condition and development plans.

What they're saying: "We have reached a point where continued forgiveness of inaction is simply irresponsible," Mallett tells Axios.

  • Axios' attempts to reach Winans yesterday by phone and at his offices at the church's east side location were unsuccessful.

Catch up fast: In 2003, Winans announced a grand vision for the 15-acre site — 70 condos, a 165,000-square foot church and a 1,100-space parking deck with a $60 million price tag. Completion was expected in three years, Crain's reported at the time.

  • But the building has been a vacant shell for over a decade and the city only began working with the church last year to set new timelines to complete the project, according to Deadline Detroit.

State of play: The city's patience has run out.

  • "Despite effort and time, a pathway forward has not been identified," Mallett's letter reads.
  • There have been no building permits issued for the project for the past five years and all prior development proposals have expired.
  • The city has also issued multiple violations that remain outstanding.

What's next: The church has until Jan. 23 to begin new development agreement negotiations with the city.

  • A building status report is due Feb. 13 for the Woodward church property and 105 surrounding residential properties owned by Perfecting.
  • Financial records and current contracts for the cathedral project with an architect and construction manager are due April 6.
  • Failure to meet the deadlines "will likely result in the City of Detroit filing a lawsuit in the appropriate forum seeking all appropriate legal and equitable remedies," the letter reads.
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