Will The Rustbelt Replace Old Navy?

Will The Rustbelt Replace Old Navy?

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 1/20/2011)

Word spread quickly on the web today about a new project in the planning phase for the former Old Navy building on the corner of 9 Mile and Woodward.  Detroit Make It Here (http://www.detroitmakeithere.com/article/20110120/DM01/301209998) reported that plans are in the works for The Rustbelt Market, a space where artists and crafters can come together to sell their creations on the weekend, and also store them during the week.

Chris and Tiffany Best came up with the idea after visiting Artists and Fleas in New York.  “It’s like a flea market, except when you think of a flea market you think of a bunch of old stuff,” said Chris Best.  “This will be more fun, like an art festival but inside.”

The plan is to do an incubator type environment (similar to Paper Street), where artist rental fees combine to pay the bills, and hopefully provide a living for the young Oxford couple.  Best says they’ll be renting a third of the building to start, but hopefully growing to capacity as more and more artists discover the space.  “Since the article went up we’ve gotten lots of calls from artists who want space,” Best said.

The 15,000 square foot building, located at 22801 Woodward, is managed by Grenadier Properties, and has sat vacant since an Old Navy Clothing Outlet closed on Sept.22, 2007 (http://www.candgnews.com/Homepage-Articles/2007/9-05-07/FF-OLDNAVY.asp).  Grenadier invested in a face-lift in June 2009 to the building and it has been featured at a couple of the Commercial Property Showcase events held by the Ferndale Area Chamber and the Downtown Development Authority.  A Ferndale-owned company dealing with the film industry has also been in talks with Grenadier about using the space on the weekends.

Best said he is excited about being able to use his skills in architectural glasswork to transform the building into a “creative looking space,” although he contends that “Tiffany is really the creative one.”  Tiffany Best is an artist who works in fabrics, paints and other media.  Her website is www.earthygirl.biz.

The Rustbelt Market has not yet launched its website, which will be www.therustbeltmarket.com.  They also are still looking to secure financing for the project, although they anticipate being able to open in April.   Artists who are interested in applying to be part of The Rustbelt Market can contact Tiffany at mailto:tiffany.best@hotmail.com.

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