By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN – The proverbial ball is now rolling to keep the city administration on schedule to move to the new Dearborn Administrative Center by next summer.
Two items, one awarding a contract of $208,400 for architecture and engineering services and the other awarding a contract of $15,020 for furniture installation and layout consulting services, were approved 6-1 by the city council on Dec. 17.
City Council President Thomas Tafelski, a vocal critic of the selling of the current city hall, was the lone vote against the agenda items.
Both items address needs for preparing the DAC, 16901 Michigan Ave., and purchased by the city last year for $3.2 million, for the moving of the city’s administration.
The city is moving out of the current city hall, 13615 Michigan Ave., and clearing it for its new tenant, Artspace.
Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, purchased the city hall complex in July for $1.65 million and plans to renovate it to create 46 work and living spaces for artists as well as spaces for art studios, art organizations and creative businesses.
It has many similar properties throughout the country, but this would be its first in Michigan.
Artspace was recently granted an award of low income tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, a key step in securing funding for the project.
Artspace currently is working with the city to develop a timetable of when the city hall complex will become available for renovations to begin, but early estimates are for the city to be completely moved out next summer.
Renovations at the old city hall are expected to take 12 to 15 months and are expected to begin in June.
As part of the contract for the sale of the city hall complex, Artspace will not receive City Hall Park or the parking lot south of John Nagy Drive.
The statue of former mayor Orville Hubbard and other statues and monuments at city hall also will be relocated to the new DAC.
Also at the meeting, Tafelski introduced to the council an idea that a sign should be placed in front of the DAC informing residents of where the future home of the administration will be located.
“Because we are now approving items for the DAC, I think that it’s prudent to put up some type of sign,” Tafelski said. “People are driving by and asking, ‘Where is the new city hall?’ I think it would be a good agenda item moving forward into 2014.”
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])