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.