The launch of Landline Creative Labs, and the development of 209 Pearl


As you may have heard today, Jesse Kranyak and I are attempting to purchase and renovate a building in downtown Ypsilanti. The 9,000 square foot building, which was constructed about 100 years ago by Michigan Bell Telephone, has been largely vacant since the summer of 2014, when a fire ended its most recent incarnation, which was as a boarding house. While we still don’t actually own the building, we’re the better part of a year along the path and we’re cautiously optimistic. We have both a signed purchase agreement with the current owner and we’ve come to terms with a bank on the financing. Now it’s just a matter of executing on the few hundred things we need to do before closing, like figuring out the tax situation with the City, confirming with the Building Department that we can actually do what is that we want to do, and filing all of the necessary paperwork. [Jesse and I just signed our partnership agreement earlier this evening, and we’re filing the incorporation paperwork for our company tonight.] So, by the end of the month, if all goes well, the building at 209 Pearl could be ours.

When completed, assuming we’re able to pull off what we have in mind, 209 Pearl will be home to 11 creative companies, a loft apartment, a bar/restaurant, and Frank D’s barbershop.

landlinelogoWhile the bar/restaurant is still a long way off, we’ve already begun work planning out the 11 offices, which we’re collectively referring to as Landline Creative Labs. We’ve actually already gotten commitments from our first three tenants; a graphic design firm [Invisible Engines], a video production company [7 Cylinders, and a photography studio [CS Photo].

While we’re starting with a focus on photographers, graphic designers, web architects, writers, filmmakers and the like, we’re not adverse to the idea of broadening our scope to include record labels, podcasters, app developers, community news organizations, arts non-profits, etc. The most important thing to us is that we bring in bright, creative and engaged people who are in the process of making interesting things happen. As each company will have its own private office, collaboration isn’t mandatory, but we’re confident that, by putting such people in the proximity of one another good things will happen, not only for their own individual businesses, but for Ypsilanti in general.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.14.31 PM

[above: This is what the Landline space looks like now. It’s still raw, and there’s quite a bit for fire damage to contend with, but we’re confident that we can make it work.]

If you’d like to read more about our plans, both Concentrate and MLive posted features this morning. Here, because I think it’s funny, is a clip from the Concentrate piece.

…The two partners became friends shortly after Kranyak, an EMU alumnus, moved back to Ypsi in 2011 to open the Wurst Bar. They bonded over a shared passion for the Ypsi community, and the mutual admiration between them is obvious. Maynard expresses respect for Kranyak’s management skills, and Kranyak for Maynard’s community influence. Kranyak says he expects Maynard will handle the marketing end of the project while Kranyak focuses on the construction end.

“My back is going, so I’m too old,” Maynard says. “I’ll sit and take pictures of him and blog about it. ‘Look what Jesse’s doing today!'”…

And here we are going over the plans, surrounded by tiny plans that Linette and Clementine brought us from home. Jesse, by the way, if the youthful, energetic looking one. [I’m the one steadying myself on the table.]

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.23.34 PM

While Ann Arbor remains the hub of Washtenaw County’s arts economy, and its economy in general, the affordability and less stratified feel of Ypsilanti are drawing creative energy eastward.” – July 21, 2015, The Ann

I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about this project over the weeks and months to come, but, before I sign off for the night, I’d like to say a little something about why we think Landline is important.

Since my friends and I first started the Shadow Art Fair, probably over a decade ago now, I’ve wanted to do something like this. While it was great and exciting to bring the most interesting and creative people that we could find together for a day, I’ve always wondered what might happen if we could do something more permanent, something with deeper roots into the community. I was confident that the future of this little town that we love lay in the creativity of its people, and I wanted to see what might be possible with a little support and infrastructure. I wanted to have an actual place in town where people engaged in creative business pursuits could work in proximity to one another, occasionally collaborating, sharing insights, and dreaming up new ventures, all while contributing to the vibrancy of our downtown. And, now, thanks to this new partnership with Jesse, who shares this same vision, it looks like we might actually have a chance to try it out.

Will it succeed? We’re not sure… We feel relatively good, however, about placing a bet on the creativity of Ypsilanti.

[For more information about securing a space at Landline, click here.]

This entry was posted in 209 Pearl, Art and Culture, Landline Creative Labs, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Demetrius
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Best of luck to you and Jesse on your new venture.

    I’ve lived in Ypsilanti for many years, and Downtown has never felt more robust and vital. I hope your new effort will both add to – and benefit from – that energy.

  2. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Nice building. Great name and logo.

  3. Westside
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Good for you!

  4. Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I didn’t mention it in the post, and maybe it’s obvious, but we chose the name Landline because of the fact that 209 Pearl was built by Michigan Bell Telephone. Landline Create Labs, as we’re envisioning it, will be kind of like our local Bell Labs.

  5. Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    One more thing… I should add that none of this would have been possible in Ypsilanti without the hard work of others, who, over the years, have busted their asses to demonstrate that Ypsi is a vibrant community welcoming to, and supportive of, artists. Significant contributions have been made by Spur Studios, Alloy Studios, DIYpsi, Dreamland Theater, Totally Awesome Fest, First Fridays and others. What Jesse and I are creating is just one more piece of the puzzle, a place for businesses with creativity at their core to work and grow.

  6. Peter Larson
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    This is a libertarian dream.

  7. BrianB
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Outstanding! Congratulations & good luck!

  8. Steven Krause
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    This looks like it could be pretty cool; I wonder how EMU can try to be a part of this/lend a hand to this?

  9. Julie
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “Will it succeed?” Of that, I have no doubt. This is great news, Mark. Congratulations.

  10. Jcp2
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Please dedicate a data port to Dr. Larson to acknowledge his creative contributions to the community.

  11. Dan
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink


  12. grandma
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Well, I must say – maybe there’s some karma to the name! I like! I like! Good luck all!!!!

  13. Gillian
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    This is great! I was walking past that building just last week and noticing what a great space it is. Glad someone is investing in it!

  14. CM
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    That’s nice. It will give us bus riders something else to look at besides a burned out building and a barred-up liquor store.

  15. Jesse Tack
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Awesome news! Put some permaculture in that shit and make it a greenroof, vining trellis of grapes or hardy kiwi up the south wall, capture water in a zero waste system, etc.

  16. Anonymatt
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a great plan unless a creative urine trough designer tries to move in.

  17. site admin
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Trough Urinal Comment Context (TUCC):

  18. Posted March 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I love this!

  19. G.
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    exciting! i’m really hoping you find a first floor tenant with really fast grab-and-go coffee and muffins that I can get when i’m waiting for a bus. Beezy’s is pretty good for this but you can’t actually see your bus from there. And they are usually out of muffins.

  20. Dan Richardson
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful building!

    I know your long game is to turn it into The Mark Maynard Museum.

  21. Posted March 18, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Congrats, mark. Excellent work.

  22. Posted March 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the “likes” and the kind words, everyone. As of today, things look pretty good. Anything could happen, though.

  23. Westside
    Posted May 29, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I want to hear and see more about the building. I liked that story.

  24. Aaron Olschefski
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Excited to see the progress!!! Great location and will be a great add to the ever growing downtown arena. I too have moved here during college and fell in love with the city. I renovate homes in Wayne and Washtenaw but love the old home of Ypsi and Ann Arbor and truly enjoy seeing a good remodel. Good luck and all of us in Ypsi are supporting you!!

11 Trackbacks

  1. […] « The launch of Landline Creative Labs, and the development of 209 Pearl […]

  2. […] long, but other projects keep getting in the way. [Speaking of which, we’re set to close on that building I was telling you about by the end of the month.] The episode I’m posting here tonight was our 41st, and, if you like […]

  3. […] long, but other projects keep getting in the way. [Speaking of which, we’re set to close on that building I was telling you about by the end of the month.] The episode I’m posting here tonight was our 41st, and, if you like […]

  4. […] And, after our discussion of found films, we’ll be joined by our old friend Jim Cherewick. We haven’t been all that nice to Jim lately, and I intend to make it up to him by allowing him to do whatever he wants for a entire segment. [The last time Jim joined us was the night that The Patti Smith Group’s Ivan Kral was on, and I didn’t let him say a single word. And, the time before that, we forced him against his will to perform the Ted Nugent song Fred Bear.] I’m told that, among other things, Jim will be performing two brand new tracks, and attempting to sell me a piece of artwork for the lobby of 209 Pearl Street. […]

  5. […] holes in the roof of Now it’s on to work with the architects on our construction plans for 209 Pearl last weekend, Jesse and I turned our attention to demolition today, removing quite a bit of the old […]

  6. By How I abused my blender and saved my life on May 24, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    […] in front of an illuminated screen, exhausted, and totally stressed. And, on top of everything else, I also took on the additional stress of buying a largely vacant building in downtown Ypsi with the i…. And, by early this year, things had started to take a toll. Not only was I perpetually tired and […]

  7. […] mention them all by name. I will say, however, that the three companies I told you about in that first post announcing our plans – the graphic design firm [Invisible Engines], the video production company [7 Cylinders], […]

  8. By Landline Creative Labs to open April 1 on March 19, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    […] beat. I spent every available minute this weekend at 209 Pearl, trying to get the Landline space ready for our tenants, all of whom are hoping to move in on April […]

  9. By Landline Creative Labs in Metromode on March 22, 2017 at 6:59 am

    […] piece of wood in what will eventually be the Landline Creative Labs conference room at 209 Pearl Street… Here, if you’d like to read it, is a link to the article, which is all about the […]

  10. […] every spare minute I’ve had these past several weeks have been spent at 209 Pearl Street, getting ready for the launch of Landline Creative Labs. Had this been happening at any other time […]

  11. […] ideas for names) referenced back to the Michigan Bell Telephone Company,  which, in 1926, built the building that we’re now in. (And the name Bellflower) struck a note for us. It seemed optimistic and forward looking. The […]

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