The future of The Gathering Place banquet center at the former St. Mary’s Church on Commerce Street in Milford Village is up in the air after a stop work order was issued earlier this month by the village’s building department.
The building’s tenants, Kim and Dan Russo, were looking to use the main floor of the former church as a banquet hall and rental hall to host events — including weddings, dances, and baby and bridal showers — while the lower level would be used as a spa area.
However, Village Building Inspector Randy Sapalak said that the building never received a certificate of occupancy and that functions still occurred there.
“The site was still under construction and inspections were never completed. In spite of our warnings, they continued,” Sapalak said.
He said he issued the stop work order on Thursday, May 5 and also sent it out via certified mail.
For the building to reopen, Sapalak said that it would take a meeting with the Building Department and the posting of a sizable bond, which he said he isn’t sure can happen.
“(Another tenant) can follow through with the church, but right now it’s at a standstill,” he said.
This is the latest setback on what has been a turbulent year-and-a-half for the former church.
Back in January 2010, the Milford Village Council struck down plans by Subhash Kapur and musician Alexander Zonjic to convert the church, located at 219 E. Commerce, into a cultural center that would have hosted events such as jazz concerts and poetry readings.
Some residents near the church had concerns about parking, traffic and patrons potentially consuming alcohol late into the evening.
Then on Nov. 1, the Milford Village Planning Commission conditionally approved the proposal by the Russos to convert the church into a banquet center and the Village Council approved an amendment to the village’s special parking district ordinance to accommodate parking on Jan. 3.
The council also recently directed the Planning Commission to amend the village’s office district zoning ordinance to allow for concerts at the banquet center after the Russos said that they wanted to host live theater productions and other musical events at the facility.
Now, it’s unknown when or if any events will be held at the church.
The Russos didn’t return calls for comment prior to press time.