With support from the Innovate Ypsi program from Ann Arbor SPARK, funded by Washtenaw County, Landline Creative Labs is redeveloping the former Michigan Bell Telephone building in downtown Ypsilanti.
The space will become a mixed-use development, featuring high-quality office space for creative professionals as well as a restaurant.
Landline Creative Labs, cofounded by Mark Maynard and Jesse Kranyak, will invest more than $650,000 in the development of the space. Ann Arbor SPARK is providing support to the project with a $56,000 Innovate Ypsi performance-based grant, and helped the company secure a tax incentive from the City of Ypsilanti.
“Landline Creative Labs, once it's up and running, will serve as home to 10 of our area's most innovative creative companies, filling a void in the regional ecosystem, where high-quality, yet affordable, downtown space is difficult to come by,” explained Maynard. “We anticipate that, by early fall, Landline Creative Labs will be a vibrant center for our region's growing creative community, in which the daily interaction between graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, illustrators and other creative professionals begins to manifest in interesting ways that we can't even begin to imagine.”
“There's something really beautiful about this little town, a creative streak that goes back to likes of Elijah McCoy, Preston Tucker, and Winsor McKay,” Maynard added. “And Landline, I think, speaks to that, but it's just part of the puzzle. We've got Alloy Studios, the Dreamland Theater, Chin-Azzaro Studio, First Fridays, Totally Awesome Fest, Riverside Arts Center, and a solid network of unofficial venues for people doing innovative creative work. And, now, with Landline, there’s going to be a venue for people who are doing client-facing creative work, and we're confident that good things will come from that. Ypsilanti is fast becoming known as a hub for creativity, and this is just one more step in that evolution.”
The Innovate Ypsi incentive program is designed to provide grants, loans, and other economic assistance to businesses that create jobs and investment in Ypsilanti. The performance-based grants are available to qualified businesses that create qualified jobs and make new investment in Eastern Washtenaw County. The funds can be used for a variety of expenses, including marketing and business development, product development, and talent relocation and recruitment.
“Taking a leadership role, in partnership with the county, in the revitalization of eastern Washtenaw is exciting,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. “Companies like Landline Creative get it: They are tapping in to what makes Ypsi distinct, and drawing on those assets to grow their business. Ypsilanti is such an integral part of our region, and being part of its growth and economic evolution is an important part of SPARK’s work. We hope that technology companies considering new locations and expansions will take a second look at downtown Ypsilanti and make an investment in a growing key node of our area of innovation well positioned adjacent to the American Center for Mobility project.”