Artspace Project Moves Forward With Search for Architects

The design phase of the project will be supported by grant and East Dearborn DDA funding.

Representatives from the national Artspace initiative were in Michigan last week as the arts-based real estate developer and local partners begin the search for an architectural firm that will begin the design phase of the Dearborn project.

The project, set to be located in what is now , could provide live-work space for more than 30 local artists, based on a survey by Artspace. The city in April approved a letter of intent to negotiate the sale of the building to Artspace.


According to Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships Wendy Holmes, the building could also include a performance space in what is now the City Council Chambers, and gallery area in the hallways.

Holmes and Vice President of Properties Heidi Kurtze met with officials, as well as local artists and community members, last Wednesday.

Holmes explained that Artspace is looking to apply for funding assistance from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority by February of 2013 as one of several funders of Dearborn's project.

Assembling financing for the multi-million dollar project, she added, is "the lion's share" of the project at this time.

The architectural work will be funded partially by from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a matching amount from the EDDDA's own coffers.

City authorization of the DDA's piece of the funding is on the Dearborn City Council agenda for this Tuesday.

AC September 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM
It appears this project will rely on grants in order to develop and build it. Will the grants continue? Will it be self-sustaining at a certain point?
Charles L Walls September 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Indeed...Where is the money coming from that will purchase and maintain this building? Is is federal grant money (i.e., our pockets)? Or charity? Are the live-in "artists" going to be paying rent? Or is this going to turn into another welfare housing project, hiding under the guise of artistry?
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 10, 2012 at 03:01 PM
The majority of the funding for rehabilitating and opening the building will be grant funded, and then yes, artists living there will pay rent. We'll have a more extensive update on Artspace soon, but of course, everything is still in development stages right now.
Caryn September 10, 2012 at 04:31 PM
My understanding is that it is not just grants, but also tax credits. With these forms of support the project becomes viable to attract other private investment. The Grand Traverse Commons is an example. Redeveloping the old state hospital by itself was not a viable redevelopment project, but when you include grants, tax credits, and the rennaissance zone designation, it became attractive for a private developer. I think we are fortunate to be working with such an experienced group as ArtSpace. They have put together many successful projects around the country. Not only does it provide accessible housing to working artists, these communities invigorate the surrounding neighborhood.
Rich September 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I still wish to remind readers of the "Artspace" statement of looking for 'run-down, UNDER-UTILIZED' buildings for their use. How does the City Hall fall into this category?
KingofDBN September 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM
The citizens of Dbn need to get together fast and see what we can do to stop this. Where is our voice, how the mayor and council can get away with pulling this off with out consulting the taxpayers is beyond me... Our city hall is a landmark and should be the pride of the city savedfor future generations.. Knowing that it's being turned over to a bunch of hippies makes me sick.. SHAME ON YOU MAYOR AND COUNCIL!
Curious September 10, 2012 at 11:14 PM
"Not only does it provide accessible housing to working artists, these communities invigorate the surrounding neighborhood." If the artists are working, how come they can't buy a house in East Dearborn at the rock bottom prices some of them are selling for and maintain the house and pay property taxes like the rest of us working people? Why do we have to pay for the artists' dwelling in addition to their work, performance and gallery space?
Silvio Davis September 11, 2012 at 02:23 AM
These are all great questions and concerns. Your opinions and voices should be expressed at the City Council meetings!!! With elections coming up soon, the pressure can be put on everyone involved in this process. To make it clear, Tafelski was against this move and made that very clear during a budget hearing over the summer. This was thrown into the budget hearings out of no where from the Mayor, city council had no idea about this. An email was sent from the mayor to Council a few hours before the budget hearing was schedule the day of about Artspace coming to Dearborn. From what I was told is that the 'renters' will have reduced rent and would be considered section 8 housing? Not sure if that is a fact or rumor. My concern is the City has made it clear that it will cost around a million dollars to bring the building up to code, so the question has always been out there on who will front that million, us or Artspace? Grant money can only get you so far, how far will it take Artspace in Dearborn, and is this something that will attract people here so they can sustain themselves? We need to focus on building Dearborn and bringing traffic into our City. This is something that just seems will not benefit Dearborn one bit. What benefits will Artspace bring to Dearborn?
Bob September 11, 2012 at 02:34 AM
The article says the architectural work will be funded by a $75,000 grant and matching funds from the East Dearborn DDA. It goes on the say city authorization of the DDA’s piece of the funding is on the City Council’s agenda for Tuesday. Can someone please explain to me how the East Dearborn DDA works? Exactly where does the money come from that they would use to fund this project and why do they need Council approval? Is this Dearborn taxpayer money? I guess I just always thought the East Dearborn DDA was separate from the city, but now I’m beginning to think I was wrong. Any insight would be appreciated.
Silvio Davis September 11, 2012 at 02:34 AM
The upcoming City Council meeting- September 11, September 25, October 9, October 30, November 13, December 4 and December 18.
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Well, if you ask the city, they'd say it needs $5.7 million in repairs and that there's a vast amount of unused space. But clearly, that's still a debated issue.
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I don't know 100 percent how the DDA is funded, but part of it is tax dollars gained from the business district - at least that's what I know about the WDDDA's funding. I would assume the EDDDA works similarly. But clearly that's not all their funds. This is a good question - I'll look into it further.
City of Dearborn (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Its hard to say how exactly it will benefit the community, because clearly it's never been done in this area. But this is not a new concept for Artspace, and is very similar to previous projects they have done. My understanding is that most or all of those projects are partially or entirely reduced-rate housing, and Dearborn's would be run the same way.
Frank Lee September 11, 2012 at 01:18 PM
There is absolutely zero evidence that ArtSpace provides any quantifiable benefits to surrounding neighborhoods or residents. That being said things that do improve neighborhoods and quality of life are being closed and eliminated. Pools, branch libraries, and Rec programs give Dearborn a comparative advantage over other cities and are the foundation of Dearborn's image and brand. This mayor proposes to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a project that is so devoid of facts and qualitative evidence it borders on gross incompetence. This project will be funded with HUD money, tax rebates and other government handouts that could either be spent elsewhere on better projects or returned to the taxpayers. This could possibly be a sustainable development in a time of surplus and growth but in a time of decline and debt this sketchy project is criminal.
Kathy Peacock September 11, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I'm looking forward to ArtSpace. It sounds like a great way to use a building that would otherwise be empty and to bring some vibrancy to Dearborn. I'm surprised at the vehement opposition to it, given that it is mostly grant-funded and the artists will pay rent. What kind of programs do detractors prefer? Or do they prefer empty buildings? Or do they view City Hall as a "sacred space" that should not be defiled by such low-lifes as artists? There is room in Dearborn for everyone, and given the state of so much of our real estate, it's not very forward-looking to look askance at a group that would like to make Dearborn its home.
Bob September 11, 2012 at 09:06 PM
This will be item #37 at tonight's City Council Meeting: 37. RESOLUTION BY COUNCILMEMBERS BAZZY AND ABRAHAM – Authorizing the Finance Director to recognize and appropriate $75,000 in the Designated Purposes Fund as a contribution to the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Fund; also authorizing the Finance Director to recognize and appropriate the contribution in the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Fund to be used for Architects in the transformation of Dearborn City Hall into an Artists Live/Work Space and requesting immediate effect. This does make it sound like the $75,000 is coming from city funds/taxpayer dollars, although I don't know exactly what the "designated purposes fund" is.
speedbumps September 12, 2012 at 02:21 PM
The city has not been transparent with the sale of the old city hall and the purchase of the former ADP building. The city has only shared the purchase price of $3.7M for the former ADP building with no discussion of the millions more being spent to renovate the former ADP building for use. Add in the $2.3M for the vacant parcel of property adjacent to the ADP building that the city originally purchased for expansion (now planned to be an expensive park) and the new city hall is costing over $9M and counting.
Rich September 15, 2012 at 03:16 AM
It would be nice if any of the DDA's $ were actually spent on promoting the areas. Something like a ton of the other communities' DDA's do. But, alas, Dearborn knows the best way to use our money.
Sharon Murphy September 16, 2012 at 07:12 PM
You write for people who seem to know an awful lot. Please name who is the arts space realtor/developer and who are the local partners? List the members of the East Dearborn Development Authority and why is it called "East Dearborn", and not just plain 'ol "Dearborn". Are these people appointed or elected? If appointed, by whom? What are the qualifications for such an august group? Or is this a topic for a separate story? Do you plan to address "Mg's" comment?
Bob September 17, 2012 at 03:01 AM
East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority http://www.eastdowntowndearborn.com/ Board of Directors John Morgan Jr. Chair Midwestern Dental Plans Dan Merritt Vice-Chair Green Brain Comics J. Scott Saionz Secretary/Treasurer President; Georgetown Commons Board of Directors Patrick Allison VPSI Parking Paul Flowers Blick Art Materials Mark G. Guido City of Dearborn Jay Kruz Retro Image Antiques Judith McNeeley Oakwood Healthcare, Inc John B. O’Reilly Jr. Mayor STAFF Michael Bewick Executive Director Melissa Kania Executive Assistant mkania@ci.dearborn.mi.us
Bob September 17, 2012 at 03:04 AM
I see there is a small story about Art Space on the EDDDA's Web site dated 7/9/12 that says Mayor O'Reilly "just recently visited Minneapolis, Minnesota to see the project in the works for himself". I wonder who paid for that trip and how much it cost? This is the first I've heard of this trip.
Donna Hay September 17, 2012 at 07:49 PM
This was approved by the council. Tom Tafelski request a vote and he was the only one that voted against the city matching the $75,000.00!


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