Vacant Detroit school to be transformed into affordable senior apartments

Holcomb Elementary School building to be turned into affordable housing

DETROIT – Developers have big plans for a vacant Detroit school, and it's expected to have a major impact on the community.

The old Holcomb Elementary School on Bentler Street on Detroit's west side will look very different soon. It won't be turned into condos or a parking lot. Instead, it'll be something Detroit really needs: affordable housing.

The building has been vacant since 2010. The school was once a centerpiece in its neighborhood on the Redford Township border, and developers want to make that the reality again.

Holcomb Elementary School was built in the 1920s, and a lot of the original materials, from the auditorium seats to the paint on the old classroom and hallway walls, remain alongside new graffiti.

But the charm of the school to developers is wide hallways and large classrooms. There's enough space for a senior apartment.

Ameace Williams is a developer for the Anchor Team Company, and she said she can't wait to transform the place.

"To revitalize the area and have quality housing for seniors is just a wonderful opportunity to kick off a renovation and revitalization project in the area," Williams said.

Williams will team up with the city in a public-private partnership to get the building in top shape and repurpose it using the present footprint as it is.

Kate Humphrey is with the city's Housing and Revitalization Department.

"We're very excited," Humphrey said. "We know the residents are very excited to have this reactivated, to get rid of a vacant shell in their neighborhood."

Old playgrounds and courtyards are expected to become new and inviting attractions.

"There's a park on Karl Street that used to be the playground for the school," Humphrey said. "That will be activated as a new park with trails. Also, trails to connect through the neighborhood to the commercial corridor of Redford, up and out through the neighborhood."

The property is 5 1/2 acres. They'll spend $6 million to build 32 affordable senior apartments. It will operate as a co-op, so some of the apartments will be sold and others will be rented.

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