What’s next for Studio 28 site?

Studio 28, which has sat empty for five years. (March 3, 2014)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wyoming City records show a Dec. 23, 2013 inspection of the long-vacant Studio 28 was the beginning of the end for the iconic theater.

That final inspection by the City of Wyoming deemed the 28th Street structure a dangerous building, allowing the city to condemn it. Owners said Monday the world’s first 20-theater multiplex would be demolished within four weeks.

The problems at Studio 28 didn’t happen overnight.

Studio 28 had been deteriorating since the doors closed in November 2008. Vandals eventually broke in. The end result was a lobby is littered with debris. Skylights have been shattered, leaving a small snow pile in the middle of the lobby.

Those were the most obvious problems.

Inspectors also listed unsafe mechanical systems, unsafe plumbing and violations of the electrical and fire codes.

Wyoming building officials say the Loeks family — who opened the then-single-theater Studio 28 in 1965 — have cooperated fully and agreed to tear the building down.

Wyoming officials are expressing a kind of ‘when one door closes, another door opens’ attitude.

“Everyone knows where iconic 28th Street is,” Wyoming Director of Public Services Rebecca Rynbrandt said.

And the city plans to cash in on that knowledge with a project called 28 West. The project would bring a sort of main street feel to the area.

“28 West is a whole vision, new vision, for the corridor to take it from today into tomorrow,” Rynbrandt said.

The eventual demise of the theater building helps clear the path for that plan, part of which lays a street through the middle of where Studio 28 now stands.

“We know that this area is perfect  because of the dense residential neighborhoods for consolidated retail for office and professional buildings,” Rynbrandt said.

But is that a realistic use of that property?

“I think components of their plan can fit into the overall development of that piece,” Mike Murray with commercial real estate broker Colliers International said.

But perhaps the most important component is a draw: A destination that brings people to the neighborhood.

“There’s been on-again, off-again interest from big box retailers on that site,” Murray said.

Retailers like Meijer or Walmart, though neither have committed to the site.

Location alone doesn’t draw those retailers. They also look at population income levels and competition. Both retailers have locations  just a few miles to the south and west of the Studio 28 site.

But Murray is confident there are enough people to at least peak the interest of a large retailer.

“I believe we will see something like that there someday when that time is right,” he said.

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