Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly made a surprising announcement during his State of the City address Wednesday night: the proposed sale price of the current Dearborn City Hall.
It's expected that arts development nonprofit Artspace—which has committed to turning the city hall building at 13615 Michigan Ave. into live-work space for artists—will pay $1.65 million for the facility.
"That's the price established by an independent appraiser," O'Reilly said in prepared remarks before local officials and community members Wednesday.
Though the sale of the building to Artspace has been discussed for nearly a year, the city had not previously released an estimated sale price.
"We both agreed on the appraiser and what the appraiser said is what the price would be," O'Reilly said after his speech in an interview with Patch. "It's about what we're keeping and what we're selling."
Artspace will buy the main City Hall building and the West Annex in as-is condition. The city estimates that over the next few years, the complex will require $8-$9 million in investments such as structural repairs and equipment replacement.
The historic facade of the building and many interior structures will be kept intact.
O'Reilly added that according to Artspace, they plan to invest $17 million in renovating the property—including turning most of it into 50 rental living units for artists.
Though Artspace has live-work artist facilities in 30 other locations across the country, Dearborn's would be the first of its kind in Michigan.
The city, O'Reilly said, would still own City Hall Park, which will likely be maintained by the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority in the future.
O'Reilly estimates that the city will be moving into its new municipal offices—located at 16901 Michigan Ave. just west of the Henry Ford Centennial Library—in early 2014. Currently, the city has bids out for the build-out process.
That building, a former ADP office, was purchased in March 2012 for $3.2 million.
As for the sale of the old building, the city hopes to have a finalized purchase agreement within the next few months. Artspace needs that agreement to be able to apply for the largest chunk of federal grant money to fund the project.
The target for that federal grant application, according to Dearborn Community Fund Director EmmaJean Woodyard, is August of this year.
"It's a long, slow process," she said. "But they're moving forward. You don't see a lot happening, but there is a lot going on."
Woodyard shared that Artspace representatives have been to Dearborn multiple times over the past six months to work on the project, and will likely be coming more often as the deal with the city comes closer to fruition.
As for having his office turned into an artist's apartment?
"It's really cool," O'Reilly said.
"I've got a lot of emotions about city hall," he added, "but I'm excited about Artspace."