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Momentum grows for Hive Project in Macon

By
JACKIE KOCH

A 215-acre parcel at 8759 Clinton Macon Rd. in Macon Township has been many things, including farmland once owned by American industrialist Henry Ford and a residential home for boys in trouble, but the former Boysville property that has been mostly vacant since 2014 is continuing to move toward a fresh vision, thanks to Dexter-area visionaries John Goodell and Kim Tucker-Gray. Called “The Hive Project,” the new venture planned will be a campus of art and sustainability, beginning with a co-working space now ready for occupants.

Goodell and Tucker-Gray first toured the property in fall 2019 and imagined their vision unfolding in the buildings there, a vision they’ve been working on for the past 10 years. According to Goodell, The Hive Project plans to empower artists, educators, and entrepreneurs of all ages, united by a common desire to share, teach and compassionately serve. The goal is to bring together thousands of people year-round who share a passion for education in the performing, visual, creative and culinary arts.

Other goals include creating emotionally engaging and intellectually relevant artistic presentations, delivered through multiple mediums and live performances, and having the property manage its own waste water treatment plant and water supply system. The long-term vision includes creating more than half of The Hive’s energy consumption through sustainable infrastructure across the campus.

When The Herald first reported on The Hive Project in August 2020, the partners were under contract to purchase the property. That purchase has not yet been completed, but the plan is still underway. “We are working closely with the sellers during these strange times as we continue to navigate fundraising amidst this global pandemic,” Goodell said. “We have negotiated an extended sales contract as we continue to work with major donors. Alongside our substantial financial progress, we have continued to embrace the overwhelming community support for our vision, while taking occupancy of one of the main buildings on campus – we call it The Swarm.”

The Swarm is the only building that sits on the south side of Clinton Macon Road. Approximately 19,000 square feet, it now houses a fully-furnished collaborative co-working space for nonprofits, tech startups, and individuals looking for a workspace. It includes a central reception area, large modular conference spaces adjoined by a small commercial kitchen, private offices, smaller conference and board rooms, modular work pods, a mailroom, a separate kitchen and snack room, flexible breakout spaces and a small library. The complex is networked with high-speed internet and there are lockers and showers for those with longer commutes or who desire such amenities.

Goodell said two companies are moving into The Swarm and they have tours scheduled over the next two weeks with additional prospective tenant partners. “The space has great energy and is already set up for socially-distanced productivity with blazing fast wifi, easy access and tons of free parking,” he said.

The Hive Project includes a 25-year plan to build a sustainable organization that thrives on collaboration by serving the community. The Phase One goal to launch the Honeycomb Academy, a summer camp in the former 1957-era high school for hundreds of young artists from around the world, will come next after the project’s organizers have reached their fundraising goal to close on the property. The building will include common space, a Fab Lab, creative carrels and a computer lab.

Funds raised will also rehabilitate and renovate three buildings on north campus, including the dining hall and attached culinary school, which will be named Royal Jelly Hall and will feature a full service, 13,000-square-foot commercial kitchen with cafeteria service line, dining room, culinary arts kitchen and classroom. Royal Jelly Hall will also feature a culinary incubator for food-based businesses just getting off the ground.

Additional renovations planned include the historic gymnasium on the northeast portion of campus that will feature a modular theater and performance space with flexible seating for up to 350 people year-round, with hopes that the building will be utilized by the community for public meetings, workshops and other activities.

Despite delays related to the pandemic, Goodell said The Hive’s planners are not deterred. “We are optimists by nature. We are also realists and we know what it takes to build something sustainable: small steps and contributions from a lot of people that eventually snowball into something larger than any one person,” he said. “Our original plan was to launch Honeycomb Academy next summer. The pandemic has slowed us down, but it hasn’t even put a small dent in our passion for making our Hive dream a reality.”

As they worked with major donors and other interested parties, they shifted priorities to demonstrate that through partnerships, The Hive Project can be financially sustainable right away. “By focusing on using space that’s already habitable, we welcome tenant partners into The Swarm this month and next as one way to re-energize this amazing campus, and to demonstrate that our model is incredibly diversified and involves many channels that all feed the same Hive,” said Goodell. “Several people have reached out to us on social networks and even stopped by in person to say how awesome it is to see life back on this campus as they drive by.”

For more information, visit thehiveproject.org or find The Hive Project on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. To schedule a tour, email swarm@thehiveproject.org.
 

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