Two father-and-son teams – Tom and Ed Battista, and Sam and Ben Sutphin – are renovating the former Christian Unity Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of Commerce Avenue and Windsor Street, across the street from the Spades Park Library.
The working title of the projct is the Windsor Arts Cinema. A 12- to 18-month construction schedule is expected.
In addition to the three movie screens, the building will house a 100-seat restaurant, a community room and a film library.
The partners have also purchased four houses around the building, one of them to be moved from behind the building to make way for surface parking.
The other three homes are being renovated. One will house a shop operated by Martha Latta, owner of Handmade Promenade and the creator and printer of the Sunday Afternoon Housewife brand, of a collection of state pride accessories and tee shirts for men, women and children.
Another of the houses will be home to an Amelia’s bread outlet, but with a coffee and espresso bar.
Tom Battista believes his project will boost the Windsor Park neighborhood in the same way Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Co. helped ignite a renaissance along Virginia Avenue. (The Battistas are the principals behind Bluebeard restaurant as well as Amelia’s. Tom was also a key figure in the revival of the East End of Mass Ave, and still owns the East End Shops building and the structure housing Black Market restaurant.)
He pointed out that there are 25 empty houses or abandoned lots in the immediate vicinity of the art cinema project. He also envisions the creation of a pedestrian bridge to connect the Pogue’s Run Trail to the project.