“This was an old prison cellblock, then it was an armory and now it is going to become an incubator for artists.” Jane Robinson of Armory Arts Village was showing me around the brand new living/working area in Jackson, MI (population 36,316).
The facility sits across the parking lot from Art 634, a wonderful artist facility that I first visited in October, 2005. (See October 26, 2005 blog on Art 634).
I was told that one of the reasons for Jackson’s boom as a manufacturing center early in the 1900s was the large prison population that was viewed as virtually free labor. There was a tunnel that connected the prison to the Art 634 building that allowed prisoners to move back and forth for work each day without notice.
Now that old prison is being converted into an artist’s living/working environment. For a monthly fee of $416 to $680 they will have a new apartment in which to live and a place to work on their artistic interests while in the company of other likeminded people. Opened only a month ago, already half of the 62 units are rented out.
Jackson continues to impress me with its forward looking approach to economic development.