The City of Detroit Drops Lawsuit Against Perfecting Church Based on New Construction Completion Timelines

After months of legal back and forth by attorneys on behalf of the City of Detroit (plaintiff) and Bishop Marvin Winans and Perfecting Church (defendants), the City recently ended its lawsuit against the mega-church.  In a Wayne County Circuit Court “Stipulated Order of Dismissal” issued by Judge Patricia P. Fresard, both sides agreed to pursue goals and timelines – in good faith – that would allow Perfecting to re-jumpstart its stalled construction of a new edifice on Woodward Avenue and Seven Mile Road.   Construction of the Cathedral has been in slow mode for nearly two decades.

The agreement includes specific commitments from Perfecting to the City of Detroit regarding “construction timelines, permitting, and financing. “

Among the timelines Perfecting agreed to, include, but are not limited to submitting a Building Status Report by a certified structural engineer to the City of Detroit Law Department on or before June 30, 2023; requesting a hearing before the City’s Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environment (BSEED) Board of Appeals by August 15, 2023, to evaluate construction drawings and other exhibits to determine if the Cathedral completion can continue under the Michigan Rehabilitation Code of 2015; and submitting to BSEED all required documentation to receive building permits after the BSEED Board of Appeals renders its decision, which all parties anticipate will be completed by October 31, 2023.

Perhaps two of the most significant timelines involve Winans and Perfecting presenting evidence of financing to the City’s Corporation Counsel within 30 days of permit approval from the City, as well as closing on the financing within 90 days of presenting evidence of financing to the City.

Nevertheless, Perfecting is ready to move forward.

“Pastor Marvin L. Winans and Perfecting Church are pleased to announce that a resolution has been reached with the City of Detroit in respect to their lawsuits against each other,” Winans said in the statement sent to the Michigan Chronicle by Perfecting’s General Manager Cindy Flowers.  “Under a Stipulated Order of Dismissal, both parties have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution allowing Perfecting Church to resume construction.”

“The great thing about this settlement agreement is that 90% of it was crafted by their lawyers,” said City Corporate Counsel Conrad Mallet Jr., who filed a lawsuit against the Bishop and Perfecting in late February.  “We were very anxious for them to set their own timelines because all we are trying to do is get them to move forward.  I literally said to them, ‘Tell us how long you think this is going to take.’ “

The legal process leading to the recent court agreement began in early January when Mallet sent Winans and Perfecting’s Board of Trustees a four-page letter requesting documentation related to construction management, timelines, code compliance, financing, and other related matters.  The city ultimately filed a lawsuit.  The recent court agreement has undoubtedly lowered the temperature and eased tensions on both sides by creating a plausible pathway for Perfecting’s new House of Worship to come to fruition.

When the construction project was first announced at a press conference in 2003, the Cathedral was projected to feature a sanctuary to seat 4,200 worshipers, a 1,000-space parking facility, 70 townhouse condominiums, and a 35.000 square-foot administration structure, all with a $60 million price tag.  It’s unclear whether the original construction plans announced 20 years ago are exactly the same today for the restarted project or have been modified because of possible financial and economic considerations looked at by Perfecting’s brain trust.

Yet Winans, who some still call ‘the wise builder,” and the Perfecting membership remain excited, determined, and faithfully focused on what was started at Woodward Avenue and Seven Mile Road nearly two decades ago will be completed.  If everything in the agreement goes as planned, the new edifice could be completed and ready for worship services in late 2024 or 2025.

“The start of construction may be delayed by winter weather but will begin no later than Spring 2024,” Winans said in a statement.  “Perfecting Church eagerly anticipates the completion of this magnificent new structure, which will contribute to the beauty and building of the community of this great city.”

It should be noted that the “Stipulation Order of Dismissal” states that the Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce compliance.

“For that, we are grateful,” Mallet told the Chronicle.  “We believe; however, this is a good agreement.  We also believe the church is entering into this agreement with renewed energy.  I’m hoping that the agreement turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Perfecting moving forward to finally finish its Cathedral.”

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