By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN – The Arab American National Museum (AANM) has scheduled an event to celebrate their new director and discuss plans for an expansion of the museum.
AANM Communications Specialist Kim Silarski said that the event will take place on September 16.
“We will be having a reception for our new director, Devon Akmon, and we are going to be showing sketches and talking about all of the details of the expansion,” Silarski said.
Akmon took over as director of the museum at the end of June. He had previously served as the deputy director since 2009.
According to published reports, the expansion will be into the two empty buildings to the immediate east of the museum, the former Zamboni Room sports bar and A to Z Medical Equipment. The exterior design currently on the front of the museum will be extended to incorporate the additions.
The additional space is expected to add about 4,000-square-feet to the museum, which currently has around 30,000-square-feet.
The proposed additions were brought before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals at the end of August because several variances were needed before the project could be started. These included the building not having a setback when 1 foot is required behind and 10 feet in front, there is not enough space for landscaping and there are not at least five parking spaces directly related to the building.
The variances were granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals at the end of August, with City Zoning Administrator Tom Paison stating that the city’s rules were harder to enforce in a downtown area, especially in an already existing building.
The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, which operates the AANM, owns both buildings and began looking at designs for the expansion last fall. The museum opened in 2005 across Michigan Avenue from the City Hall complex.
The project is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])