The city of Wixom has terminated its lease with the tenant of the historic Gibson House — who has been at the center of a controversy in Milford over her plans to turn an old church into a banquet facility — citing “breach of contract.”
“Generally, we terminated the agreement for non-compliance,” said Wixom Assistant City Manager Tony Nowicki.
Kim Russo was also leasing the former St. Mary’s Church in Milford in order to operate the Gathering Place banquet center. She came under fire for allegedly taking reservations without a certificate of occupancy for the former Milford church building. In Wixom, she had planned to turn the Gibson House into a venue for weddings and similar events.
Several Gathering Place clients reportedly have filed complaints against Russo. One in particular allegedly paid Russo a $250 deposit for a wedding ceremony at The Gathering Place, but claims Russo wasn’t responding to her requests for information following Milford officials’ closing of that operation.
Currently, Milford police are investigating the allegations.
Russo apparently took the same liberties in Wixom.
“She took reservations without the authority to do so and didn’t have the ability to deliver since she had no certificate of occupancy at the time,” Nowicki said.
Russo bridged a deal with Wixom that called for her to make renovations to the interior and grounds of the Gibson House, located on the south side of Pontiac Trail west of Old Wixom Road.
“She was doing some improvements, but once in it, she made the determination that she didn’t have the capital to fully comply with the terms of the agreement and business plan she provided to us,” Nowicki said.
Russo had also intended to set up an inside tea room for small events and make accommodations for a bakery down the line.
Apart from interior renovations, Russo planned to install a paved driveway and parking lot at the Wixom site. The agreement stated she would be responsible for paying utility costs, which would have resulted in a cost avoidance for the city of $5,000. In turn, the city would lease the building to her free of charge.
Russo was expected to fulfill her commitment in the agreement before the city approved her certificate of occupancy.
A phone call placed to a number listed as Kim Russo’s went to a line that is no longer in service.