Sugar Hill Arts DistrictDetroit, MI
It has been an exciting last few months here at Midtown Detroit, Inc. We have been approached by a handful of local performing arts groups looking for our assistance to find building space in the neighborhood. Detroit has tons of vacant land, but the reality in Midtown is that there are just not enough buildings with either owners willing to sell or that are in move-in condition to support the needs of these various dance, music, and theatre organizations. Most of these groups also do not have adequate financing to buy buildings, undertake major rehabs, or even build new, nor have the means to purchase all the technology necessary for their productions. What they do have is confidence—confidence in knowing that they are able to provide a quality arts experience for the public, as well as the ability to grow their audience with time. All of this is making us feel pretty confident about our choice to want to transform our church building into a small performing arts center. Where there are performing arts groups looking for building space, there are audiences to follow them hungry for this type of arts and culture activity—holding a lot of promise for our space.
We have also moved forward with our architect, Quinn Evans, and now have architectural drawings for the church. What we are proposing to develop is a 115-seat theatre on the main level, and a 100-seat black box theatre on the second level. The building will have a small addition which will serve as the primary entrance off of the parking lot and will be ADA accessible with ramps and an elevator. The lobby/concession area will also serve as an art gallery. Another exciting element is that this building will support a seasonal outdoor stage and plaza that can be programmed during the warmer months or rented out for private events. What makes this outdoor area even more promising is that we’re about to contract with a major landscape urbanism firm (we’ll announce who this is in 2012) to develop a public art landscape design master plan for the overall Sugar Hill Arts District as part of a grant that we received from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program. The concept for this outdoor plaza will be addressed in this overall master plan. This is a great opportunity to do something forward-thinking, while incorporating the community’s input into this design.