Excuse us if we sound a bit callous, but when we hear a Detroit building is on fire, we tend to yawn and scroll to the next tweet. But this morning's blaze was a bit different. It was at the site of a two-year long art project in-progress called Imagination Station. And we'd recently heard about a big development plan in the works for this site adjacent to Roosevelt Park and Michigan Grand Central Station. In a city with so much on fire, here is why this one matters a bit more than the rest.
We are not the fire marshall so you'll have to wait for something more official in terms of cause, but it would seem arsonists caused this sad scene. The project was an initiative to create art in the unused spaces and the homes were bought, along with the lot next door, two years ago. And yes, this is not the first time those houses have been burned. Imagination Station organizer Jerry Paffendorf was on the scene this morning to witness the crispy remains of the his work, as well as that of countless volunteers. At one point the more-burnt house (Lefty) housed an installation by Catie Newell, which apparently has nine lives and managed not to be home when matches came calling. It is in this crate pictured below after a recent trip to Grand Rapids where it was recognized by ArtPrize.
Moral of the story: invest in a Newell art piece, they can't be killed.
As for the rest of ImagStat, one house appears to be a total loss. Will this kill the whole site? On the cusp of Corktown's mostly bustling block (the one with Slows BBQ) this site seemed to have a decent chance at redevelopment. Not only is the location great, but Paffendorf has been in talks with the developer Scott Griffin (landlord to Curbed Detroit HQ at the 2051 Rosa Parks building) about enclosing the two homes in a green house structure to make an enclosed park environment.
So arsonists have gone and struck something people really care about this time, something that locals were continuing to put money into. What now? Imagination Station took some flack for being "that hipster project" but it certainly put some shambly buildings on the map. Paffendorf took an "onwards" approach when interviewed by reporters this morning.
In a city where "building on fire" is about the least imaginative headline possible, we're struggling with the irony of slapping such words on something proclaimed as a station for imagination. It's in the damn title. Perhaps they will have to change the name.
· About the Imagination Station [official]