Milford police are reviewing several reports filed by clients of The Gathering Place banquet center at the former St. Mary’s Church on Commerce Street, after a stop work order was issued at the site in recent weeks by the village’s Building Department.
“We’re kind of in the review process,” Milford Police Detective Ed Pilch said. “It’s more or less a financial investigation. There’s a good handful of things coming in periodically. Our job is to follow up and see what other information is needed and see if we have an investigation.”
The building’s tenants, Kim and Dan Russo, were looking to use the main floor of the church as a banquet hall and rental hall to host events including weddings, dances, and baby and bridal showers. The lower level would be used as a spa area.
However, Village Building Official Randy Sapalak said that the building never received a certificate of occupancy and that functions still occurred there. He issued a stop work order on May 5 after determining required building upgrades hadn’t been completed.
One Milford police report filed on Wednesday, June 1 states that a client allegedly paid a $250 deposit for a wedding ceremony at The Gathering Place, and that Kim Russo wasn’t responding to her requests for information.
The client also provided police with an e-mail in which Russo reportedly stated a refund would be provided if the event couldn’t be held as planned.
As a second venue, Kim Russo signed an agreement with the city of Wixom to lease the Gibson House historical landmark in order to modify it so it can host weddings and similar events. The farmhouse is located on the south side of Pontiac Trail west of Old Wixom Road. Kim Russo bridged a deal with the city where she will make renovations to the interior and grounds. She also intends to set up an inside tea room for small events and may make accommodations for a bakery down the line.
Apart from interior renovations, Kim Russo plans to install a paved driveway and parking lot at the Wixom site. She will be responsible for paying utility costs, which will result in a cost avoidance for the city of $5,000. In turn, the city plans to lease the building to her free of charge.
City officials are awaiting Kim Russo’s lead to fulfill her commitments before they approve her certificate of occupancy. So far, she has completed work on the interior only.
“The most optimistic time frame would be 45 days from now if she is able to proceed with the improvements outlined in the business plan,” said Wixom Assistant City Manager Tony Nowicki.
At this juncture, Kim Russo can’t take reservations at the Wixom site.
“The ball is in her court to make improvements and then submit the paperwork,” Nowicki said.
A phone call placed to a number listed as Kim Russo’s went to a line that is no longer in service. A message left at The Gathering Place for Kim Russo went unreturned prior to press time.