- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Officials from the Detroit suburb of Dearborn have vacated their old city hall and are opening up shop nearby as a nonprofit organization plans to convert the old building for use by artists.

Built in 1922, the old Dearborn City Hall building predates even the city’s own incorporation, first opening as the government offices for Springwells Village. The building closed Friday and the city’s administration is scheduled to open for business Tuesday in offices called the Dearborn Administrative Center.

“This is going to be an incredible environment for the arts,” Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said. “The artists will live and work here. It’s really a great opportunity to create a draw, for people to say, ‘Hey, let’s go see what’s going on there.’”

Some residents aren’t pleased with the move, saying that Dearborn is losing a historic building that helped make their city special, the Detroit Free Press reported (https://on.freep.com/1sUH4On ).

Councilman Tom Tafelski opposed the move, saying it could end up costing taxpayers up to $14 million.

“It’s a landmark that generations know. It really does define the character of Dearborn,” Tafelski said. “We’re not just a strip mall community. We’re a community of unique neighborhoods, multiple cultures, multiple socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, and that City Hall typifies who we are.”

The old Dearborn City Hall consists of three buildings and still is expected to be called City Hall as Minnesota-based Artspace converts it into lofts and studios for artists.

Artspace agreed to pay $1.65 million for the buildings and intends to invest $17 million into the site, which officials hope will become a creative hub that will attract residents and rejuvenate the area.

O’Reilly defended the move, saying it will save taxpayers $450,000 a year because the old building is expensive to maintain, heat and cool.

The city paid $3.2 million for the building where administrative offices will be housed, which O’Reilly said is a modern building with a “more cost-efficient, open platform.”

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com


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