Police precinct turned art gallery?

DETROIT – It's a dreadful looking place. The outside is covered with graffiti. Inside, paint is peeling and junk is scattered throughout the building.

But an amazing transformation is under way at Detroit's old police precinct on Vernor. Construction crews are turning it into an art center.

"I love it. It's taking it to its best use in my opinion," said Larry Halbert of 555 Gallery. 

The arts group will lease the 7000-square-foot structure from Southwest Solutions, which acquired the abandoned police building from the city of Detroit.

"One of the primary missions of our organization is to provide affordable studio space," Halbert explained. 

Halbert envisions 50 artists working at the gallery. It will host community workshops and provide a home for the Banksy mural, which was retrieved from the old Packard plant. 

Lead had to be removed from the firing range in the basement.  Halbert said artists will use the range to make their own creations, firing colored paintballs at cardboard. 

The art center is expected to open next year. 

Halbert closes a cell door behind him. "What are you in for?" I ask.   He replies, "Public art."