City Hall: St. James Announcement a ‘Great Day for Lakewood’
City officials have spent the past two years trying to figure out the next use for the 104-year-old building.
It’s been a big week for St. James Catholic Church.
Last week, the roof was repaired at the parish. Over the weekend, there was a minor fire at the church.
Then, on Tuesday, Bishop Richard Lennon announced that the parish — along with 11 others in the Cleveland area — would reopen its doors.
That's welcome news to city officials, who have been scratching their heads for two years trying to figure out the next use for the 104-year-old building.
“It’s a great day for Lakewood,” said Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development. “Having this cathedral open and active again is a big win for the city.”
According to a decree sent from Rome, and received March 8, the Cleveland Diocese failed to follow proper procedure. The decree noted that under canon law, Lennon should have consulted the Presbyteral Council before closing the parish.
“I will not appeal the decrees,” Lennon announced in a press conference Tuesday morning.
It was welcome news to city officials.
“It’s a great relief for the city of Lakewood,” said Mayor Michael Summers. “It would be dreadful to think that something that large slowly decaying and diminishing. The good news is we’re not going to experience that.”
Summers was the city’s Ward 3 councilman when council approved the church as Lakewood’s second-ever historic landmark.
That means the building couldn’t have been demolished.
The diocese put deed restrictions on what the future use of the structure could be — essentially eliminating bars, restaurants that serve alcohol or nightclubs.
“Since its closing, we’ve been trying to figure out mightily what will be the next life of St. James,” Siley said. “I am happy to say that that next life is going to be a great church in Lakewood.”
Part of the diocese’s agreement with the city was to continue to maintain the church during its closure. Shortly after it closed, the church replaced a portion of the roof. Last week, the parish repaired a few more spots.
On Sunday, heat from a lighting fixture set a couple birds’ nests on fire — the fire was quickly extinguished.
Siley said that the reopening is just one spark in the positive development on Detroit Avenue.
“To be able to add St. James back into the community’s vibrant mix is just essential,” he said. “It’s a landmark on the west side. It’s also a testament to the commitment and persistence of the parishioners — not only to their church, but to their community.”