Historic School in Detroit’s Banglatown Undergoes $7.2M Housing Renovation

The Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department announced developers have begun a $7.2 million renovation of the former Transfiguration School in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood. The school will turn into affordable housing.
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Transfiguration Place Apartments
The former Transfiguration School in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood will be transformed into 19 units of affordable housing. The project is expected to be completed in 2022. // Photo courtesy of the city of Detroit

The Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department announced developers have begun a $7.2 million renovation of the former Transfiguration School in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood. The school will turn into affordable housing.

The project’s developers are Ethos Development Partners in Detroit and Cinnaire Solutions, based in Lansing.

The Transfiguration Place Apartments at 13300 Syracuse will feature 19 units of affordable housing, all of which will be available at 60 percent area median income. The rent is made possible through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME Investment Partnership and Community Development Block Grant funding administered by the city, and project-based vouchers through the Detroit Housing Commission.

The inclusion of project-based vouchers in the project will allow residents of extremely low incomes (0-50 percent of the area median income) to also live in the development in the future.

Of the 19 units, 17 will be one-bedroom, and two will be two-bedroom. The units will be conversions of former classroom space and will feature lots of natural light. The project is located in one of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas and is slated to be completed in 2022.

The city of Detroit issued a request for proposal for the site on behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit as part of a partnership developed to put historic but underused and vacant Detroit buildings back into use. Area residents were part of the request for proposal selection committee, and the developer held community meetings during the predevelopment process.

“This project is about the community coming together to find solutions to both our need for affordable housing and the question on what to do with the many historic but unused buildings that dot our city,” Duggan says. “I’d like to thank and congratulate the team behind the renovation of Transfiguration School for not only their commitment to creating affordable housing but also for helping to continue the revitalization of our neighborhoods by reactivating this beautiful building that had been such an important part of Banglatown’s past.”

The two-story building was designed by the architectural firm Garstecki and Waier and built in 1926 to serve Detroit’s growing Polish population. The structure also served as the congregation’s church until 1950, when the church opened next door. The parish school closed in 2005, and the building was leased to a charter school until 2014. It has sat largely unused since.

The school is the oldest surviving piece of a six-building complex that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. Historic details will be preserved, and the developers will also be able to tap historic tax credits for the project because of the building’s placement on the register.

The Housing and Revitalization Department is helping the development through $1.4 million in home funding and $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants. Other financial help comes through the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.

“The Transfiguration Place Apartments will provide much-needed affordable housing in Banglatown and offer residents quality apartments with access to a number of amenities,” says Donald Rencher, director of the Housing and Revitalization Development. “Our department is committed to ensuring that development in our city creates equity and opportunity and that our city’s neighborhoods are welcoming, inclusive places for all.”

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