By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The City Council April 1 approved the establishment of a $5.5 million budget for renovation and relocation costs associated with moving city hall to the Dearborn Administrative Center.
Councilman Thomas Tafelski was the lone vote against the measure in the 5-1 vote. Councilman Brian O’Donnell was absent from the meeting.
The city purchased the DAC, 16901 Michigan Ave., in 2012 for $3.2 million and it is estimated that moving the city’s operations to the new facility will save the city $400,000 annually.
Council President Susan Dabaja said the city anticipates moving in early September, which would allow Artspace to begin work on turning offices in the east and west wings of city hall into lofts.
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.
Renovations are expected to take 12 to 15 months.
Tafelski asked City Chief of Staff Mark Guido during the meeting why items that were in the budget originally — such as extending the road behind the 19th District Courthouse and Henry Ford Centennial Library to connect it to the new city hall, were no longer included.
Guido said the city has been going over the plans and determined that “a number of things on the list don’t need to be done right now for us to occupy the building.”
Guido also said carpet on the first floor and part of the second floor would be replaced and other cosmetic changes are planned for the new building that would need to be done prior to the city moving in, but an item like extending the road to connect it to new facility could wait until a later date.
“We’re trying to find that right balance between things that are usable and things we need to change to make it fully functional,” Guido said.
Guido said additional costs due to security and IT additions to the facility could bring the total price of renovation up.
Guido also said contract negotiations are ongoing with Severstal about its $8.5 million contribution to the project.
Severstal has offered to pledge the money for the project in exchange for naming rights at the city hall complex after Artspace moves in. About $1.75 million of the money would go to Artspace for pre-development and project contributions and $5 million of that money would go to the city to help with remodeling projects at the DAC both this year and next year.
A budget session to discuss the DAC and the costs associated with the relocation of city operations and renovations at the new facility is scheduled to be held in the Mayor’s Conference Room in the east wing of city hall at 5:30 p.m. April 8.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])