By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN— The city is a step closer in their move to find a new home.
The City Council, at a special meeting yesterday, approved the purchase of the former ADP building as the new City Hall location.
In a 5-2 vote, Councilors Mark Shooshanian, Nancy Hubbard, David Bazzy, Robert Abraham and Suzanne Sareini voted for the move into the $3.2 million-building, located at 16901 Michigan Ave., along with the nearly $600,000 in closing and holding costs, prorated property tax, hearing cost and maintainence.
Council President Thomas Tafelski and Councilman Brian O’Donnell voted against the purchase.
Tafelski said the move is wrong and almost a contradiction.
“When we just asked the public for three and a half mills, we’re saying, ‘We’re broke,’” Tafelski said.
He added that the city is unable to open pools, grass in some areas is not maintained and the money used to purchase the building should be spent elsewhere.
“Our legacy shouldn’t be in bricks and mortar,” Tafelski said, “but should be in protecting and preserving neighborhoods … I think we should better spend the money in the neighborhoods with the people, the business district with the business community.”
O’Reilly said in April that moving City Hall will better the city.
“I have been around City Hall most of my life,” O’Reilly said. “It is something that is very important in the community and I am not losing sight of that. We are actually looking at making it better for a long time to come.”
The ADP building purchase is one of the many steps O’Reilly has supported when it comes to moving City Hall and letting another entity fix structural problems with the historic building complex.
Currently, City Hall needs $5.7 million to repair the parking structure which is dangerous to drive in and park, O’Reilly said at previous council meetings; the liner over the building needs to be replaced and the city uses a portion of the building because the rest is unusable.
“(These are) expenses that the city cannot walk away from,” O’Reilly said, addressing some of Tafelski’s objections to the purchase.
O’Reilly said it costs $7.50 a square foot to operate the ADP building, while it costs $23 a square foot at City Hall and he said the city will save $5.7 million by not having to fix up City Hall.
“You don’t have the high overhead and operating costs,” O’Reilly said. “The more we cut overhead the better off we are.”
Artspace, a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization created to help artists find affordable locations to live and work, wants to move in to City Hall. The organization has established artist communities in more than 30 areas including Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.
He added that if Artspace holds up its end of the deal, the city won’t have to spend $5.7 million.
Tafelski said Artspace should complement City Hall and not take over the building.
“There are probably more efficient and effective ways of running different buildings,” Tafelski said. “However I don’t think this is the time or place to do it.”
During a City Council meeting, April 4, the council approved a motion to allow Dearborn to create a letter of intent to sell the City Hall campus to Artspace. Tafelski opposed the letter.
During the special meeting yesterday, O’Reilly said the process of due diligence has not expired on Artspace’s purchase.
Artspace has a six-month due diligence period to close on City Hall, which started April 25.
City Attorney Debra Walling added that the city is “close to finalizing that letter of intent right now.”
Walling also said it has not been determined when City Hall will move into the ADP building because a purchase agreement has not been executed and a closing date has not been established, among other logistics.
“Once the city signs the purchase agreement there will be a 45-day due diligence period for the city to inspect and examine the building equipment and condition,” Walling said.
(Sherri Kolade can be reached at [email protected])