A historic, vacant northwest school is being proposed for redevelopment into 40 residential units and space for nonprofits to use.
Why it matters: The city's dozens of vacant schools are often seen as candidates for demolition instead of renovation due to the high cost of fixing them, even with their history and impact for residents.
- The Higginbotham School was an "all-Black elementary school for over 80 years," with "unique Mediterranean Revival-style architecture," per the City Planning Commission.
The latest: The project, which also entails constructing two new residential buildings with 60 total additional units, requires property rezoning to move forward. It got a positive recommendation from the planning commission last week and now needs City Council approval.
- The developer is Detroit-based Urge Development Group, Crain's reported.
- The city and Urge are working on a purchase deal, per the planning commission.
- Urge CEO Rod Hardamon said during a public meeting he hopes the project could become a "model" for school redevelopment as part of revitalizing a neighborhood. When a school shuts, it's a "bellwether sign to where the neighborhood is trending." But the same could be true when that building gets new use.
Flashback: The historic school was built in 1926-27 for kindergarten through eighth grade. It served the Eight Mile-Wyoming neighborhood populated with working-class Black families moving to the city around that time, as racist redlining policies limited where Black residents could live, per city documents.
- It eventually became a charter school in 2006 and closed in 2013.
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