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Posted on Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 9 a.m.'s first floor community space opens to the public

By Stefanie Murray


Ryan Stanton |

After months of planning and a little bit of renovation, the first-floor community space at is finally open to the public.

From the beginning, we've openly shared our unique plans for this space. We wanted it to not only be a reception area where our readers could stop in and buy a subscription to the print paper or place an ad, but a kind of "third place." A spot to gather and talk about what's in the news. A place for community groups to convene. A space to stop by and meet with a reporter, editor or contributor for

I don't think anything like this exists anywhere else in the news industry, but it's a critical part of the mission of to be by, of and for the community. We want people who live in and around the Ann Arbor area to feel an ownership stake in what we're doing — and what better way to encourage that than to throw our doors open to the public?


Interior shot of first floor offices of

Ryan Stanton |

This summer, took over nearly 2,000 square feet on the first floor at 301 E. Liberty St., where Primo Coffee was before it closed. The storefront was refurbished to make it a flexible and comfortable space. We have several tables with chairs set up as workstations as well as some plush seating, including a couch. There's wireless Internet available and coffee, too. We plan to rotate local coffee companies every couple months; the first one featured is Bearclaw Coffee. A donation of $1.50 a cup to benefit our Warm the Children program is requested.

We have a handful of computers set up so folks can browse and get help learning how to use the site. We're also working with the Ann Arbor Art Center to set up a public art display that will show off local artists.

Local community groups can reserve use of our conference room, which seats about a dozen people.

The Community Team for will regularly work on the first floor, so during the day you can stop by and likely find one of us around to chat. The Community Team includes me, Cindy Heflin, Edward Vielmetti, Jen Eyer and Jessica Webster. Customer advocate Elizabeth Palmer will work on the first floor to greet and assist folks as they arrive; she'll also coordinate reservation of our conference room.

Over the next several months, we hope to use this first-floor space as a way to step up our interaction with the community. We've got lots of ideas for various events and discussions we'd like to hold there, from open houses to debates to educational brown-bag sessions.

Our community space will be open to the public every week day between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. We welcome you to stop by and visit.

Stefanie Murray is the Community Director for Contact her at


Alan Benard

Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 10:15 a.m.

"Why would anyone complain as they add and experiment with new services?"Because individuals, groups and local governments have identified both inaccurate reporting and the unchallenged appearance of misinformation in story comments as serious flaws in the model. And the site management does nothing about this.

Alan Benard

Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 9:38 a.m.

"Will there be moderators there to control the discussion and make sure nobody gets off-topic?"Will the conversation be dominated by people spouting misinformation over and over and over and over again?


Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 7:44 a.m.

The AA News is gone and it is not coming back. I am thankful we have to provide local news service and a community forum. I notice they take criticism well and make corrections quickly. They are a young company. Why would anyone complain as they add and experiment with new services?

Susan Cybulski

Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 12:37 a.m.

Primo Coffee (the business that was in the former first floor space) was a great local business. They offered one of the few larger conference spaces free of charge to their patrons. It was a wonderful "third space" that had a great atmosphere, good coffee, and great service. Primo, you are missed!


Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 9:01 p.m.

I hope there's a public restroom. Then this place will be sure to relieve the dowtown library of some its homeless babysitting duties. They'll love to curl up in those comfy leather couches.


Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 8:40 p.m.

oldgaffer protests too much, methinks. At least Ms. Murray used the correct case and didn't say "includes I." (And yes, I was in grade school 50+ years ago, so I know what was taught back then. I can think of far worse grammatical infractions, if indeed this even is one.) Moderators to control the discussion, per TripleVSix. Aw-w-w -- that's no fun! Otto -- You don't know who'd stop by weekdays, 9 AM to 5:30 PM? How about us Old Retired Guys, with no other commitments? (And -- not sure what paying taxes has to do with it. Most of us do that.) Rusty -- yes! Anonymous flaming, petty criticism, and griping must continue -- no question about it. That's part of the fun of it. Why, I've already had three of my comments deleted from the on-line version of Personal insult, profanity, vulgarity -- some alleged silliness like that.

Otto Mobeal

Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 3:33 p.m.

Weekdays 9AM to 5:30PM? Who do expect to stop by? Aren't most of the tax payers - you know the people who pay the local taxes and probably the only ones who read the working those hours? If you are serious about this 3rd space (or is it really dead space?), why not have hours from 5:30PM to 9:00PM?


Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 1:04 p.m.

"A spot to gather and talk about what's in the news." Will there be moderators there to control the discussion and make sure nobody gets off-topic?


Sun, Nov 8, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

You'd think that a professional writer would know basic grammar. Stefanie Murray wrote: "The Community Team includes me, Cindy Heflin, Edward Vielmetti, Jen Eyer and Jessica Webster." I was 6 years old when I learned to list myself last. How can Murray not know that? What kind of example does this writing set for young readers? Murray obviously watches too much television where nearly every reality show contestant speaks like a moron.