Near east side getting new cinema focused on indie films

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Department of Metropolitan Development unanimously approved a zoning variance Wednesday for the Windsor Park Art Cinema.

The developers behind the project, Tom Battista and Sam Sutphin, bought what was formerly The Christian Unity Missionary Baptist Church, located on the corner of Commerce Ave. and Windsor St., and three adjacent homes in 2016.

Now, the zoning has been approved. The group plans to spend around $2.5 million to renovate the church into an 80-seat family restaurant and three theaters that will hold 300 people.

One home next to the property will be turned into an Amelia’s, a bakery and coffee shop, and the other two homes are expected to become a screen printing shop and art gallery.

The new development is expected to bring between 50 and 75 jobs to the area.

“We think these businesses stabilize neighborhoods and what we like to do is come in, put in great businesses that really care about the people there, create jobs for the neighbors in the neighborhood and create a business that will serve that neighborhood,” Windsor Park Art Cinema President Edward Battista said.

Battista said currently there are 25 boarded up homes within 1,000 feet of the old church.

Battista is also the brains behind Bluebeard, Amelia’s and Milktooth in Fletcher Place. He hopes the cinema will have a similar effect to how those businesses have benefited the southeast side neighborhood.

“We took buildings that had a total of 10 people between all of those companies and now there’s well over 100 employees working in those buildings,” he said.

Windsor Park Art Cinema Program Director Daniel Jacobson and his partner, Dusty Frey, will be in charge of selecting the films to show at the theater.

Jacobson said he hopes to program something for everyone each month. The theater's lineup will mostly focus on documentaries, foreign, art and independent films, he said.

“The audience is super starved for independent film, especially in the downtown area and that’s why this idea came to be,” Jacobson said. “The cultural epicenter of the city is downtown so why are we missing that center for art when it comes to film in downtown.”

The Windsor Park Art Cinema plans to begin serving food and showing films at the beginning of 2019.

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