91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ypsilanti studio space "spurs" on artists, musicians

James Marks, SPUR Studios founder, in front of the building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti
Doug Aikenhead
Michigan Radio Picture Project
James Marks, SPUR Studios founder, in front of the building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti

You can file this story under "silver lining."

Michigan's recession has left a lot of empty buildings in its wake. When James Marks was looking for a larger building to house his t-shirt and flat screen printing company, VG Kids, he looked at a two-story brick building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti.

The building had plenty of space, but was divided into dozens of small rooms. Marks says the space wasn't a good fit for his company, but it was perfect for artists’ studios:

"The building sat empty for eight years. That makes a property owner a little more willing to listen to unconventional ideas. This owner has a certain kind of benevolence and wants to bring good things into the world, and that was a big factor . . . equal parts of his sense of adventure and a down economy creating an opportunity."

The owner agreed to lease the building to Marks, who in turn created SPUR Studios. The building was filled to capacity within six months of opening, with artists occupying the second floor spaces and musicians on the first floor.

Our latest Michigan Radio Picture Project takes you inside SPUR Studios, where you can out photos of the space and meet some of the artists. 

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
Related Content