DEARBORN, Mich. — Dearborn’s old city hall building has been converted into affordable housing units for artists and their families.
The Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/2cU3IHX ) reports that more than 100 people gathered at the steps of the building to celebrate the project’s completion Wednesday.
Artspace, a nonprofit that provides more affordable housing for artists, managed the renovation. It owns and operates more than 40 buildings across the country with almost 1,500 total units where artists live and work.
The former city hall has been outfitted with 53 units and sits next to 20,000 square feet of commercial space that could host business incubators, work studios or office space for nonprofits when completed.
Artspace project manager Becky Carlson St. Clair said converting the building to residential use was a challenge, because its historical value complicated aspects of the renovation.
Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. said the project originated in 2009, when he was looking for ways to sustain the city’s economy during the financial crisis. O’Reilly reached out to Artspace and renovations started in January 2015. He says he hopes the project will inspire downtown development and offer an alternative to artists in Detroit neighborhoods, where rent is rising.
Graphic designer Lionez Kimber is an artist and new building resident who spoke highly of the project.
“I feel like it was the answer to my prayers to be part of a community that has a passion for art,” Kimber said. “I was really happy to be a part of that.”
While the residential site is completed, the commercial space is still looking for funding, although the nonprofit plans to finish renovations by the end of Spring 2017.
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com