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More Parking, Better Drinks: Developer Wants to Bring New Life Downtown

“We want to bring a little more life back into the building,” developer A.F. Jonna said. “As everyone knows it’s been a dark corner with vacant spaces there.”

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

Imagine getting in your car and driving to downtown Birmingham when the sun is shining, kids are laughing and adults are shopping. Parking on Old Woodward is a breeze. You’re late for a movie so that works to your advantage. You walk into a newly-designed Palladium building and get your movie ticket to the “Cine Bistro,” the new theatre that offers dinner, a movie and drinks.

That’s the vision A.F Jonna Development and Management Company has for downtown Birmingham. The company purchased the Palladium building in April, which has been a staple in the Birmingham community since 1999. While the movie theater remains operational, the retail space beneath the theater has been empty for the past two years according to dbusiness.com and property owner Jordan Jonna wants to turn the downward spiral around.

“We want to bring a little more life back into the building. As everyone knows it’s been a dark corner with vacant spaces there. We felt we could do some good with this corner and bring some life back,” Jonna told Hometownlife.com and the planning board.

The majority of the changes will take place in the interior of the building starting with parking. As many have experienced, it can be difficult to find parking spaces in the Palladium parking structure. Evan B of Lathrup Village, MI tells Yelp “sometimes parking is a nightmare and the parking structure is sometimes nearly full. Parking is not the most convenient thing ever.”  

A.F Jonna Development plans on creating more room for parking by decreasing the number of theatre seats to about 600 and replacing the lower-level retail space with additional parking. The company also has plans to add an additional floor to the three-story commercial structure for office space.

As for the movie theatre, Jonna plans on using the space to his advantage. The current space housing about 2,300 seats will change drastically, according to the development company. Making room for the “Cine Bistro” means replacing the existing 12 screens with five smaller screens, luxury seating, food and drinks, reports the Hometownlife article.

Jonna met with the Birmingham planning board last week to discuss the project. The board voiced concerns about pedestrian foot traffic and bringing more restaurants to the area because so many other restaurants have failed in the space before. The board recommended preliminary site approval and asked Jonna to work with staff on its concerns. The project will require final approval from City Commission.


Courteney Allison Child Gettel June 06, 2014 at 06:45 AM
I'm not sure I'm understanding this plan. Am I to understand that they are going to redo the Palladium to be more of a dinner theater? If so, where do the kids and people who don't want dinner go for movies? I understand bringing "life back into the building." There are already too many "luxury" places to go for dinner and drink in Birmingham.
Sean McGee June 08, 2014 at 01:45 AM
This is a horrible idea. But that is okay for Troy and Clawson, as the new 16 theater MJR Digital Theater is opening at the corner of 15 Mile & Livernois on June 20th. So go ahead and further alienate those few fans you have left for the Palladium. I have seen less and less there since the newer Royal Oak downtown theater opened and since they renovated the Troy, AMC John R building. The Birmingham theater has been constantly dirty lately and the prices are still rising.

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