$5M Loan Fund Supports Redevelopment of Detroit’s Vacant Schools

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Local Initiatives Support Corp., which helps revitalize distressed neighborhoods, is offering a $5 million loan fund for developers looking to revive and reuse vacant school buildings and properties throughout Detroit.

The School Redevelopment Fund, which will be formally announced at the Detroit Public Schools Developers’ Conference on Reuse of School Buildings on Thursday, will provide financing for project pre-development, construction, and long-term debt needs to both nonprofit and for-profit developers, said Tahirih Ziegler, executive director of Detroit LISC.

“We are excited to partner with the Detroit Public Schools in an effort to redevelop and put back into productive use as many vacant and under-utilized school facilities as possible,” Ziegler said. “… with good planning and financial resources, these buildings can once again contribute to the vitality of our neighborhoods as innovative living and gathering places for residents and businesses.”

Several DPS-owned vacant school buildings and parcels are located in neighborhoods designated by LISC as building sustainable communities neighborhoods, or places that can support residents of varied income levels. They include Springwells Village, Grandmont Rosedale, and the Grand/Woodward areas of Detroit.

Ziegler said an example of the company’s redevelopment efforts can be found in the adaptive reuse of Flint’s historic Oak School into a senior housing project. The project, which is under construction, will be presented in a case study during the conference on Thursday.

“Creative/adaptive reuse of these structures is a major focus of the district’s real estate philosophy, and is critical not only to our community, but also our school district,” said Jack Martin, emergency manager of DPS. “The future of DPS is rooted in partnerships like this.”

Since 1990, Detroit LISC has invested $175.2 million and leveraged an additional $738.4 million to create 3,753 units of affordable housing and 1.8 million square feet of commercial space.

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