Dearborn will have a new home for city hall after Dearborn City Council approved Tuesday the $3.2 million purchase of a building for that purpose.
The city will buy the ADP building–located at 16901 Michigan Ave.–which has long been discussed as the likely site for a move. The price of $3.2 million–along with approximately $575,000 in closing costs, holding costs, prorated taxes and building evaluation costs–will be added as an amendment to the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Council President Tom Tafelski, who has consistently , was joined by Councilman Brian O'Donnell in voting against the purchase.
"Our legacy shouldn't be in bricks and mortar," Tafelski said. "It should be in preserving and protecting neighborhoods and changing the downtown areas."
Tafelski added that he felt that it's the "wrong time and place" to move , citing the immediate cost, even as the city faces a looming budget deficit without cutting costs.
Mayor Jack O'Reilly disagreed, stating that the purchase of the ADP building and sale of City Hall was a long-term strategic move.
"We have to look 20-25 years ahead," O'Reilly said, citing mounting costs of repairs needed. "This (current City Hall) building needs $5.7 million in investments. This is $5.7 we won’t have to spend–$5.7 million saved."
City Attorney Debra Walling added that the city is "close to finalizing the letter of intent" to sell City Hall to national nonprofit Artspace, which is looking to transform the space into live-work space for artists.
The letter will identify Artspace "exclusively... as the party we’re negotiating with," O'Reilly said at a meeting in March to approve the letter of intent.
Artspace, working in conjunction with the , intends to turn the building into that could include performance areas, living space and areas for artists to work on their crafts.
Artspace would purchase the City Hall building as-is, and be required to bring it up to code. They also agreed to historically preserve the nearly 100-year-old building. They have not yet secured grant funding that would make the purchase possible.
O'Reilly and several council members said they feel the Artspace project will provide a much-needed boost to east downtown.
"From a progressive standpoint, it’s the right thing to do," said Councilman David Bazzy.
Tafelski said after the meeting that he believes the plan is shortsighted.
"It’s the boy who cried wolf," he said. "We’re saying we’re poor, we still haven’t balanced the budget, but now we’re going to spend $3.7 million."
He added that Artspace seems like a great project for Dearborn, but that it should "complement City Hall, not replace (it)."
Tafelski called on Dearborn residents to protest the actions–although the purchase of the ADP building will likely go through nearly immediately.
"I think the Dearborn public needs to be aware of what’s going on," he said. "It’s a large silent majority that really needs to step forward and say, 'Enough’s enough,' because otherwise, we’re going to lose this town."