Artspace to begin renovations on former City Hall

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — With the former City Hall vacant and city services relocated to the Dearborn Administrative Center, Artspace is set to begin construction in mid-December.

“After closing (on the purchase) we will mobilize for construction,” said Becky Carlson St. Clair, project manager for Artspace Property Development. “Our general contractor is ready and waiting for the go ahead.”

Artspace — whose mission is to create, foster and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations — will convert the former City Hall complex into apartments. It is the first project for the Minneapolis-based non-profit real estate developer in Michigan, which began with a meeting with the East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority in 2008.

The finished project is slated to include 53 apartment units made up of affordable live and work space for artists and their families as well as work studios, co-working space for entrepreneurs and artists, a live and work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries.

The project will cost $15.7 million and is expected to be completed in December 2015.

Dearborn was chosen for the project with help from supporters.

“Our work depends on strong local partners,” St. Clair said. “We also chose Dearborn for the passionate arts community, who the project is ultimately for and who is necessary for a successful project.”

Artspace spent time looking at 24 sites in east and west Dearborn before deciding on City Hall.

“City Hall was determined to be the most centrally located to cultural and basic amenities such as transportation, grocery stores, and schools, to name a few,” St. Clair said. “The character of the building also makes the site highly desirable for artist housing.”

Along with its location, the uniqueness of the building was an important part of the decision making for Artspace, St. Clair said.

“The intact historic details such as terrazzo floors, marble wainscoting, moldings, and grand staircases sets it apart from many historic projects we have worked on,” St. Clair said. “The buildings already have such great character, we’re merely preserving what is already there and fitting our spaces within it.

“The high ceilings, large windows, and wide corridors are all things that we typically look for in our projects. The beautiful historic details in these buildings are an added bonus.”

Go to artspace.org for more information about the project.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)