Macomb Children’s Museum won’t rise at Mt. Clemens site
Plans to build Macomb County’s first children’s museum at a site in downtown Mount Clemens have fallen through.
The initial timeline was to break ground on the museum last year at the corner of Pine and New, about a block off Main Street. Now, the 12-member Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum board of directors is looking at other sites, including an existing building it would repurpose for about $6 million, board president Monika Rittner said.
Rittner would not disclose where the building is located or a target date for opening the museum.
Rittner said the directors determined it was not feasible to develop the 40,000-square-foot, two-story facility in an area with limited parking and accessibility for loading. Much of the parking in downtown Mount Clemens is metered.
“The board of directors is very much going forward with this project,” Rittner said. “We have had several things happen that keep delaying it.”
The board has raised $140,000 for the museum, Rittner said. The proposal calls for interactive math and science exhibits and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics)-based programs for children up to age 10.
Rittner said it’s been difficult to approach donors without a secured space, she said. The board returned the land in downtown Mount Clemens to owners Gebran and Suzanne Anton, who donated it.
Mayor Barb Dempsey, who recently resigned from the museum’s board due to lack of time to commit to the nonprofit, said she was “disappointed” the museum would no longer be built downtown.
She said the board’s original goal was to construct the museum in Mount Clemens to boost economic development. Local donors helped fund the feasibility study for the children’s museum because they thought it was coming downtown, Dempsey said.
She also disputed the board’s issue with parking.
“That should not have been a stumbling block,” Dempsey said. “The idea is that you would hopefully get schools and groups to come in buses.”
Although the decision not to build in Mount Clements was made last July, a sign at Pine and New announcing the future development of the museum was just recently painted over. Rittner said she does not know who painted the sign.
The Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum would be the first of its kind in Macomb County. Other nearby children’s museums are in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint and Toledo.
“This needs to be a big project for Macomb County,” Rittner said.