It has been a long and winding road for Perfecting Church to finish its majestic new edifice on Woodward Ave. and Seven Mile Rd. in Detroit. Starting two decades ago, construction has been met with prolonged periods of “go-and-stop” activities for various reasons. In February 2023, the City of Detroit filed a surprising lawsuit against Perfecting, alleging the construction of the new cathedral had stalled, was out of compliance with the City, and the 16-acre site was blighted, an eyesore, and should be declared a nuisance. Perfecting filed a countersuit.
Four months later, under a court-ordered Stipulated Order of Dismissal, both parties reached a resolution that seemingly opened the door for Perfecting Church to resume construction, but with specific commitments to the City of Detroit regarding timelines for construction, permitting, and financing.
Since the resolution was reached, Perfecting has been in pursuit of meeting conditions to restart construction. One major step in the movement forward is that the City Planning Commission (CPC) must first “consider and approve” the request of Perfecting Church and the City Planning Commission as “a co-petitioner” to re-establish a PD (Planned Development District) zoning classification and rezone a portion of land currently zoned as R2 (Two-Family Residential District). It appears Perfecting’s original PD, approved by the CPC and Detroit City Council 20 years ago, ultimately lapsed in 2007.
The new PD awaiting CPC’s approval, according to Perfecting’s representatives appearing before the CPC in early December 2023, describes the new edifice as a 164,800 square feet church complex, with seating downsized to accommodate 3,365 churchgoers. The new PD request calls for creating 659 off-street surface parking spaces. The four-story parking structure proposed in the now-lapsed original PD to accommodate 1,079 vehicles is no longer part of the new PD awaiting CPC’s approval. The new Cathedral will include a fellowship hall, chapel, choir area, office areas, nursery, and bookstore, and will have a total of three giant crosses adorning the top of the edifice facing Woodward.
Representatives on behalf of Perfecting – including architectural, construction, civil engineering, and landscaping teams – appeared at several CPC public hearings last year to present the progress made in addressing critical conditions to move forward with construction. CPC is expected to decide in February 2024 on Perfecting’s new PD. If approved, the City Council would also need to review and approve.
Nevertheless, there seems to be great optimism in the air from Perfecting that the CPC and City Council will soon agree on the new Planned Development District proposal. In a video posted on Perfecting’s Facebook page, Bishop Marvin Winans spoke confidently about moving forward with construction, pointing to a re-launching event called a “Miracle on Woodward and 7 Mile” to be held on the exterior grounds of the site on March 5, 2024.
“This is an exciting year; it’s going to be a year of giving, a year of sacrifice,” the Bishop said in the posted Facebook video. “But I promise you after March 5, we will be moving into our new edifice 18 months (later) or before.”
Yet members of the CPC, in its December 2023 in-person meeting, directed questions to Perfecting’s representatives centered on traffic flow entering and exiting the Woodward Ave. edifice and the logistics associated with surface parking spaces on the church campus.
Other questions were asked about adjacent vacant properties not owned yet by Perfecting but are a part of its new campus’ vision. CPC members also asked about financing the re-start and completion of construction activities.
|“As part of an agreement with the City of Detroit, we have had to provide a financial commitment letter showing that the funds are in place to complete the project, which we provided in October of 2023,” said Damon Tooles, whose company, Detroit-based Damon Tooles Contracting Group, was retained by Perfecting approximately 20 months ago. “So the loan commitment and the finances are complete to complete the project.”
At the December 2023 CPC public hearing, now archived via video by the City’s Channel 10, CPC member Kenneth Daniels asked Tooles the total cost of the three phases of the construction project.
“This particular phase (Phase I) is $21 million, and that coupled with the cost that they (Perfecting) have already put into the project brings it to $43 million of investment,” said Tooles. “The Phase II and Phase III of the project will bring the total investment to $56 million.”
Like many others, Conrad Mallett Jr., the City’s Corporation Counsel who spearheaded the City’s lawsuit against Perfecting in Feb. 2023, is watching how things play out.
“We are waiting for the City Planning Commission to decide on the new Planned Development District request,” Mallet told the Michigan Chronicle in late January 2024. “And I’m trying to let that play out. My assumption is that it is going to be granted, and for Perfecting, there should be no impediment in front of them now to do more than just securing preliminary financing. Once the CPC acts, we will be very energetic about re-creating a calendar of compliance. And they are out of compliance – let’s be clear on that.”
Bishop Winans appears confident and laser-focused on seeing the long construction of Perfecting’s new House of Worship come to fruition. The bishop has said numerous times that the future Perfecting Church will be “Magnifical” and “Intentionally Opulent” to represent the God we serve.
“We knew that building a new edifice was more than just building a church,” Bishop Winans said in Facebook and YouTube video postings. “It would be building the hearts and the minds of young people, building a community…and so we had to do it right. It takes time. We started this church project, and we thought we would be done in 18 months, but God had better plans…it’s been more than 23 years and ‘now’ is the time for us to finish it…because this has to happen, and it has to happen now!”