Whoever buys the Majestic Theatre Complex, please keep it (mostly) the same


The marquee of the Majestic Theatre in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • The marquee of the Majestic Theatre in Detroit.

We're sad to see the Majestic Theatre Complex — the sprawling block in Midtown that includes the Majestic Theatre, Magic Stick, Garden Bowl, the Alley Deck, and Sgt. Pepperoni's pizzeria — is listed for sale on loopnet.com. No listing price is given, and the sale would included the businesses, Crain's Detroit reports.

One of the owners, Dave Zainea, told Crain's that the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cancelled all concerts since March, was a factor in the decision, but added that his family has been considering selling the venue for the past several years. His family started business on the block with the Garden Bowl in 1946 before expanding into nightclubs.

"We want to make sure if we do sell it, we certainly want to be sure it's a new gatekeeper who follows somewhat the same values and principles," Zainea said.

Between the smaller upstairs Magic Stick and the larger Majestic Theatre, the complex has been known for booking a diversity of rising and established artists. (Plus, they've even been known to squeeze smaller bands in Sgt. Pepperoni's or on a temporary stage over the bowling alley.) The complex was a favorite for many of the "garage rock" bands that helped put Detroit on the music map in the early 2000s, and Jack White has remained a fan, even choosing the Magic Stick to play a very packed and very loud secret show for his band the Dead Weather.

The venue had experienced some challenges in recent years. During the Great Recession, the venue took to blocking off parts of the Magic Stick to create a "Magic Stick Lounge" to make it look like the room wasn't so empty when smaller crowds showed up. In 2015, the venue pivoted to electronic music, transforming the Magic Stick into a club called Populux as part of a $300,000 renovation. The next year, however, the Magic Stick returned following a controversy where someone posted an anti-Black Lives Matter message on the club's Twitter account, prompting a boycott.

More recently, the venue invested $1.2 million in renovating the property, including a new marquee and lobby for the Majestic Theatre. The venue had also inked a deal with AEG Presents for booking talent.

We're hoping that whoever buys it resists the urge to turn everything into high-priced apartments or condos (as was feared would happen to Ann Arbor's Blind Pig) and keeps it a music venue complex. We really wouldn't change a thing — except maybe can we finally get some mirrors in the men's bathroom?

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