Ypsilanti's Riverside Arts Center - "Going up!"

The Riverside Arts Center is going up, up and away thanks to a new elevator between it and the historic Detroit Edison structure adjacent to it.

The $570,000 project not only built the elevator and adjoining stairway in the old alley between buildings but expanded and remodeled the lobby of the arts center. The whole project has gone a long way toward breathing new life into the century-old structures between Huron Street and the Huron River on the eastern edge of downtown Ypsilanti.

"We wanted all of the floors to be accessible," says Barry LaRue, secretary of the board of directors for the Riverside Arts Center Foundation. "The top floor of the building, the Masonic Temple floor, couldn’t be used because we didn't have an egress there."

The project frees up about 25 percent of the building. It opens up 17,000 square feet in the arts center's second and third floors. It also makes the second floor of the old Detroit Edison building, 6,000 square feet, accessible.

The center's lobby space was also doubled as part of the project. Work crews took out old ground floor offices and a center wall to open the space. They also installed the historic box office from the University of Michigan's Hill Auditorium.

The wood, glass and brass of the box office fit in well with the arts center because both buildings were built in the first years of the 20th Century.

"All of that was supposed to go into the landfill," LaRue says. "The contractor offered to bring it over to the Riverside."

The foundation plans to hold a dedication to the project on Feb 12.

Source: Barry LaRue, secretary of the board of directors for the Riverside Arts Center Foundation
Writer: Jon Zemke
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