Detroit to Redevelop Vacant Catholic School into Mixed-Income Housing

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The City of Detroit plans to transform the vacant Transfiguration School in the Banglatown neighborhood on the northeast side into a mixed-income apartment building, following a collaboration with the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD).

The school, established in 1925, served Catholics until it closed in 2005. The 21,500-square-foot Transfiguration School Building is located at the southeast corner of Luce Street and Syracuse Street, on the campus of what’s now called St. John Paul II Parish. Both parties intend to incorporate the building’s historical architectural elements, including the terrazzo flooring, tin ceilings, and original woodwork, into the design.

Detroit’s Department of Housing and Revitalization is seeking proposals from qualified developers to renovate the building into 15-20 residential units, 20 percent of which will be affordable. Under the collaboration, the city will market the building for market and affordable housing redevelopment and assist with resources and permitting.

“Banglatown is such an important piece of our city’s fabric and a neighborhood that has struggled with a high rate of poverty and abandonment,” says Mayor Mike Duggan.  “Whenever we can, we are going to find ways to bring new investment into this neighborhood and others like it. This new partnership with the Archdiocese is a great first step for those efforts in Banglatown.”

The Banglatown neighborhood, near the Detroit-Hamtramck border, is home to one of the nation’s densest clusters of Bangladeshi-Americans and the only place in America where one can get a voting ballot in Bengali.  The neighborhood is also home to large numbers of African-American, Yemeni, Polish, and Bosnian residents. Nearly two-thirds of Banglatown residents live at or below the poverty level and a mixed-income residential development will provide modern, affordable housing options for the community.

“We are pleased to work with the city in re-purposing our unused properties in ways that support the health of the Archdiocese and will help stabilize the broader community,” says Michael McInerney, the Archdiocesan director of properties. “We’re optimistic that other like opportunities will present themselves in the future.”

The city is currently accepting bids for the development. Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on May 22, and questions regarding the RFP process can be directed to transfiguration@detroitmi.gov.

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