Artspace reps return to Dearborn for info session

Artspaceweb
Taking a tour of city hall
Photo by Bob Oliver
Neumann/Smith Architecture Principal Michael Kirk (center) answers questions about the renovations that will be made to the Dearborn City Hall complex after the keys are handed over to Artspace later this year. Kirk displayed blueprints of the floorplans and took guests on a quick tour of the facility following an information session held by Artspace in the City Council Chambers last Wednesday.

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Artspace representatives returned to the city last Wednesday for a session designed to let prospective tenants and community members get a little more information on the Artspace/City Hall project.

Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, purchased the City Hall complex last July and plans to renovate it to create 53 work and living spaces for artists as well as spaces for art studios, art organizations and creative businesses.

They have 35 projects running in 14 states and Washington, D.C., but this would be its first in Michigan.

Artspace Vice President of Property Development and the leader of the project in Dearborn Heidi Kurtze described the background of the project and a provided blueprints of what the apartments, work spaces and concourses would look like after renovation work.

She said the plans allow for 53 residency spaces, which will be divided between efficiency, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for artists and their families and thousands of square feet of non-residential space.

“We have 25,000 square feet of non-residential space available, which is more than we’re used to, but it allows us new opportunities,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz said the non-residential space could be used for working and gathering spaces, creative businesses and performance spaces, among other things.

The total project cost for the renovations is $16.5 million with $10.5 million of that going to construction costs.

Artspace has been awarded low income tax credits up to $792,101 annually for 10 years from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which it can sell for equity that will be used to pay for the construction costs of the project, and Kurtz said that Artspace is now focusing on securing funds for the other commercial components of the project

She also said the timeline for the project is tentative, but construction is slated to begin on the buildings in late October and last for one year.

The initial application period for tenants will begin in August 2015 and the first occupants will move in three months later in November.

More information sessions will be held from March to August 2015 to keep the community and interested parties updated on the process.

Local artist Kathleen O’Connell said she liked the idea of an artist colony in the city.

“Working with and around other artists can be very inspiring,” O’Connell said. “It’s a benefit to everyone involved.”

O’Connell, along with fellow artist Janet Kondziela, used to have a loft above the Howells Bar and Grill complex before it was destroyed by a fire in April.

O’Connell said she would be interested in possibly renting a working space inside Artspace after it opens.

Bill Bialkowski also attended the information session but only because of interest in the project as a community member.

“I’m not an artist, I just wanted to get more information on the company and the plans for the building,” Bialkowski said. “I think it could really tie into the surrounding area where we have restaurants and other creative arts taking place. It sounds like a good thing.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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