File photo Erin Sanchez

Roseville approves redevelopment of Sacred Heart property

Myspace Self Storage to build new facility, preserve bell tower

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 17, 2020


ROSEVILLE — Following months of community concerns regarding the future of the property, the site of the Catholic Community of Sacred Heart Church in Roseville will be redeveloped by Myspace Self Storage.

The decision was finalized following a unanimous vote Jan. 14 by the Roseville City Council to rezone the property from R-1 residential to B-3 business, thus allowing the self-storage business to purchase and develop the site.

“We have to try to support our Roseville residents anytime we can,” said Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor. “I think you have to take the good with the bad, and I think this will bring business to the area and help build up our downtown and bring dollars into the community. I think this is a big step for our downtown development.”

In the months leading up to the decision, several Roseville residents expressed concern for the future of the Sacred Heart site, due to its historical nature and the personal connection many in the community had with the church. Myspace representatives said they want to work as part of the community on the development and not against the community.

“It’s our intent to redevelop the property to create a new retail downtown district for the city of Roseville, preserve the bell tower from the old Sacred Heart Catholic Community Church and construct a self-storage facility behind all of that,” said Gary Gerrit, the general manager of Myspace Self Storage. “We think Roseville is a stable and vibrant community, and we are very much looking forward to operating our business there.”

Myspace Self Storage operates eight self-storage facilities in the Detroit area with another three, including the Roseville site, in development. The company indicated that demolition and initial construction on the site will begin in the fall of 2020, with construction being completed in late summer of 2021.

Many residents at the meeting expressed satisfaction at the spirit of cooperation. Several said they were pleased the project will include retail space along Gratiot Avenue, thus attracting additional businesses to the intersection where the city is trying to form a downtown area. Others said the efforts to preserve the historical bell tower of the church helped win them over, since it means part of the historical building will remain standing.

“I think their preserving the bell tower is a great idea,” said Taylor. “It’s a landmark of Roseville and everyone who lives here knows it. It’s part of Roseville, and I’m glad they will try to preserve it. They came in and said they wanted to work with us, and this was the first topic that came up. People went to that church for years and got married there and brought their kids there. At least this tower will be there to give us some good memories.”

There is some concern that the bell tower will not be able to stand independently, but Gerrit said that if that is determined to be the case, they will rebuild it as closely as possible.

“Our structural engineers have to finish their inspection of the bell tower to see if it can be separated from the rest of the building,” he said. “If it can be, we will preserve it and refurbish it. If it cannot, we will re-create it and make it appear as close as possible to how it currently looks.”

The businesses moving into the retail space will remain undetermined until later in the redevelopment process.

“We’re self-storage people, so we have a third-party retail broker who will seek out prospective retail tenants when construction gets further into development,” Gerrit said. “We would like to see some large national retailers, but we don’t direct that one way or the other.”

Taylor said the solution isn’t a perfect one and that no one wants to see the church go. However, he said the Detroit Archdiocese made the decision to sell the property, and developing the site in a way that preserves the historical site and fosters economic growth is probably the best possible outcome to the current situation.

“I think the fact that they are investing about $9 million into the city makes residents pretty happy,” he said. “I think residents realize that the Sacred Heart Church is a historical site, but also realize it’s just sitting vacant right now. I wasn’t a member of Sacred Heart, but I’ve been in that church many times and it will be hard seeing it go. Hopefully, (this development) will make the area a little better.”

There was discussion during the past year of offering a tax abatement to whatever developer purchased the property to incentivize them to preserve part of the old structure, but Taylor said that was not part of the negotiations with Myspace Self Storage.

“We didn’t offer Myspace anything, so they aren’t getting any kind of abatement for the preservation efforts,” Taylor said. “Any kind of tax break wasn’t part of negotiations; they just thought storage units were a good business for Roseville, and there was a need here, and (they) took efforts to work with our community, which included preserving the bell tower.”

Taylor added that he hopes this marks the start of a good relationship with the new owners of the property.

“I want to welcome their business and their company to Roseville. We have a good relationship going already, and they seem like a great business and this should be good for the city of Roseville,” he remarked. “Hopefully, the retail space will help our efforts to revitalize the downtown area. We will be working with them to find businesses to go in there. We’re looking for businesses who will be there for a while and bring dollars into the community and provide something for residents.”