Plans for the Millibo Art Theater to move into the Ivywild Community Church, where St. Aidan’s Anglican congregation meets, are premature, says a representative of the congregation.
Howard Hillman, a vicar for St. Aidan’s, said the church building’s owner, Joe Coleman, who also owns The Blue Star restaurant in the Ivywild neighborhood, didn’t notify the congregation about his plans to move in the theater, as the CSBJ reported last week. Coleman refused to comment about the situation, saying that it would ‘create more divisiveness.”
Hillman is more than a little upset.
“We’re not moving,” he said. “We haven’t been notified of a move. And frankly, this has hurt my ability to grow a parish that has already been involved in some tough stuff.”
The CSBJ reported that the theater would move to the church in the summer of 2013, a move that would create more space for the growing company and help revitalize the Ivywild area. The former elementary school is being renovated to host Bristol Brewing Co. and a restaurant.
Jim Jackson, executive director of Millibo, said the move was a good fit.
The church tenants, however, had no idea the plans were afoot.
“There’s no agreement,” Hillman said. “If this were a private business, it would be a violation of the fair business act. I spent most of the weekend dealing with upset parishioners.”
Jackson said he was surprised that the tenants didn’t know of the plans. He has already talked to architects and engineers about renovating the property. And, he said, they’re moving ahead as if the agreement were in place.
“We’re talking with the owners today,” he said. “So we’ll have a little more clarification. But the lease has not been signed yet, and we’re still negotiating. We’re going to plan ahead for right now, as if it is happening.”
Jackson seemed as confused as Hillman about the communication breakdown.
“It’s a bit of a kerfluffle,” he said. “But I’m sure we’ll work it out. I certainly understand the vicar’s concern.”