Dearborn city officials may be moving out of City Hall and a bunch of artists could be moving in, bringing with them a place that attracts all sorts of creative types and potentially a brighter economy.
It'll happen if Artspace, a national nonprofit that facilitates live-work-sell developments for artists around the country, and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority succeed in their plans to start a Deaborn Artspace.
The project has passed most of the major hurdles to make it a reality. Before renovations and eventually move-in could begin, the city has to settle on a sales price and money has to be added to the $300,000 already donated by the Kresge and Ford foundations to cover renovations and other costs.
City Hall became the likely site after the city became aware that Artspace and the East Dearborn DDA were scouting locations. City officials are ready to sell the historic City Hall and move employees into a more modern building in order to avoid costly repairs to the building.
"Artspace got really enthusiastic about the project, when they heard about City Hall," Kania says. "They've done 30 projects around the country…They've never done a city hall before."
The campus-like arrangement on a prominent spot on Michigan Avenue and the openness of the building make it a great fit for a place where artists would live, work, rehearse, and sell or present their creations. There will be room for 40-50 live-work units and about 10 residents would live there. There will also be performance areas and vendor areas.
Every discipline of art is welcomed and Kania regularly receives inquiries from artists asking when Artspace will be taking tenants. If everything goes as planned, construction should begin in the third quarter 2014 and be finished and ready to lease in 2015.
Artspace Dearborn "would animate the historic structure with a 24-hour vibrant hub of activity that will bring the block alive with festivals, events and commerce," Kania says.
Typically, Artspace attract other artists, art organizations and businesses. "One of Artspace's projects in Minnesota fostered the area as the fastest-growing residential area with an abundance of restaurants, market-rate housing and creative businesses, Kania says.
The project would create construction jobs and jobs in the creative industry, she says.
"The East Dearborn DDA and the city of Dearborn are reinventing themselves for the 21st century. The City Hall campus will have the most profound impact on downtown business and cultural activity alike. East Downtown Dearborn will be on the map for utilizing the power of the arts to its fullest potential."
Source: Melissa Kania, East Dearborn DDA administrative assistant
Writer: Kim North Shine