Study shows arts community could be in the cards for Mount Clemens

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published October 25, 2019

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MOUNT CLEMENS — A place where art can bring creative people together: That’s the goal of Artspace, which just concluded that Mount Clemens could be that place in Macomb County.

“It’s an opportunity for us to help create a development ... that will help provide some opportunity for artists living in Macomb County. The whole development model that Artspace uses is really focused on low-income, affordable housing,” explained Phil Gilchrist, executive director of the Anton Art Center. “(It would) provide opportunities for artists to be able to live affordably, as artists, which can be difficult.”

The Anton Art Center, the city of Mount Clemens, the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority and the Mount Clemens Foundation announced that the Mount Clemens Artspace Feasibility Report is now available. More than 100 community members participated in focus groups and public meetings for a preliminary feasibility report in April to determine whether Mount Clemens would be a good place for a new Artspace development.

Artspace is a nonprofit developer that specializes in creating, owning and operating affordable spaces for artists and creative businesses, including live-work apartments for artists and their families, working artist studios, arts centers, commercial spaces for arts-friendly businesses, and other projects.

“By bringing that sort of a development to Mount Clemens, we can start to create a greater community of artists here,” Gilchrist said.

Next, the Artspace Steering Committee will be launching a market survey in early 2020, paid for with funds from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the DTE Energy Foundation, to determine what size development and types of creative spaces and amenities make sense for Mount Clemens.

Such a place could bring economic development, as well as new creative residents, to Mount Clemens, Gilchrist said.

There is an Artspace development in Dearborn, he said, explaining that they hope that Mount Clemens will be a suitable place in Macomb County for a similar development.

“The next steps are going to be figuring out how large of a development this area could support,” he said. “That’s what that market survey is going to be able to determine.”

Wendy Holmes, senior vice president for consulting and strategic partnerships with Artspace, said that they discovered during the feasibility study that many creative people would like to have more places to work together on projects with affordable rents to live.

“Mount Clemens has the opportunity within Macomb County to be that arts community that helps to connect the dots and bring creative people together,” she said in a statement.

Gilchrist said that the feasibility report is just the first step in a process that could take three to five years. He said the study estimates that 30-35 units could be developed on a mixed-use site, but the market survey will show more clearly what the area could support.

“I’m really excited for it. I think it’s a great opportunity. The city of Mount Clemens, I think, can really benefit from a development like this,” Gilchrist said. “Creating a place where a community of artists can establish and grow can help give Mount Clemens an arts reputation greater than what we already have.”

The feasibility study is available online at theartcenter.org, cityofmountclemens.com and downtownmountclemens.com.

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