The impending sale of –as well as the possible consolidation of city and Dearborn Public Schools offices–has drawn skepticism from residents, as well as City Council President Tom Tafelski.
City officials this month approved a plan to Artspace, a national company .
The immediate result has been a heated debate over whether the move is a good one for the city.
But what’s surprising is just how far back the debate goes.
Documents from a "Joint City-School Building Committee” from August 1967 focus on the feasibility of consolidating the city and school offices into the Dearborn Civic Center.
The findings of the committee were that “some type of combined usage would be possible,” especially concerning public space, equipment rooms, and meeting space for small conferences, as well as for City Council and the Board of Education meetings.
The committee also found that the potential for savings was high for both the city and schools.
“The biggest economic saving would be involved in those areas in which combined facilities or operations would, in fact, result in a complete elimination of duplication of space and facilities,” the committee wrote in the study.
The committee noted that purchasing efforts could also be consolidated, thus saving money.
“Just how far the matter of joint facilities can be carried rests largely with the degree of cooperation that exists between the school board and the city,” the committee added. “It is largely a matter of desire.”
As with present day discussions, the city felt that that moving City Hall and DPS in line with other city services would be appealing to residents.
Movement on the matter stalled for a number of years, but a $2.7 million federal grant given to the city in 1977 to be used to build a municipal office building renewed the debate.
At that time, two clear opponents of the move arose: the City Beautiful Commission, and the newly formed .
The DDA went on record “opposing any move of the City Hall from the Michigan-Schaefer location,” according to meeting minutes from Jan. 13, 1978.
Concerns from the district centered around the competition posed by the continued movement of business and residents toward the suburbs, compounded with the opening of the Fairlane Town Center.
Mayor John B. O’Reilly stated, “the heart of East Dearborn is at Michigan Avenue and Schaefer.”
In contrast, the current East Dearborn DDA has been the driving force behind Artspace, which named City Hall as its No. 1 choice for the Dearborn location.
Supporters of the sale said they believe that the live/work space for artists will revitalize east downtown, bringing foot traffic to the area in a way City Hall cannot.
The future location of City Hall has not been determined, but Mayor Jack O’Reilly has stated he supports the possibility of moving city offices to the former ADP headquarters on Michigan Avenue, just west of the .
Dearborn Public Schools officials that they were definitely planning to consolidate their offices with the city, saying that the move was just a possibility–not a set plan.