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Art of demolition

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Despite efforts to find an alternate location for the Institute of Music and Dance, its staff, parents and students remain irate about the hasty announcement that the longtime Detroit institution faces the wrecking ball.

In a July 21 letter, Center of Creative Studies president Richard Rogers told students and their families that the institute’s building on John R north of Warren would be torn down to make room for CCS’s new classroom building. The CCS board of trustees governs the institute under a merger and voted to tear down the school, which enrolls about 650 students of all ages.

Robin Terry, CCS public relations director, blamed the short notice on a shift in construction plans.

"Originally the construction folks thought that they would build without affecting the IMD building, without having to take it down," she says. CCS considered delaying construction, but Terry says this would have increased costs dramatically. "The other option was to take down half (the IMD building) and take down the other half later," she says, "but that was a significant cost as well."

Last week, the Detroit City Council directed city departments to work with CCS to try to find alternate quarters.

Valerie Felder, an institute piano teacher for three years, says she and other teachers sent a letter to CCS’s board on Aug. 1 asking to meet about the demolition. The board has not responded, she said. "I think it is also interesting that the president has not sat down with the teachers and said, ‘Hey, I know you have concerns,’ but he has not bothered to do that," said Felder.

Mary Forsyth, whose three sons study piano at the institute, is also angry about the short notice regarding the demolition. "A month’s notice is not long enough. If they had the wrecking ball there, they’ve known about this for some time," says Forsyth.

The IMD building is scheduled to come down this month.

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