Southfield is looking to renovate the old school into affordable housing for the elderly

Over the next two years, the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation aims to create affordable seniors’ housing on the site of the former John Grace School.


SOUTHFIELD – The Town of Southfield and the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation hope to advance plans for the former John Grace School this year.

Late last year, Southfield City Council approved an application by the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation for a 24-month option on the old school, 21030 Indian St., for $1 to develop affordable residential housing for seniors.

The plan is to convert the old school into 65 units for seniors, a $17 million investment representing “adaptive reuse” of the building, according to city documents. The building would be redeveloped into 20 apartments with two community spaces – the gymnasium and the old library – and the additional 45 units would be attached directly to the south of the school.

Mayor Kenson Siver said the two-year option is for the housing company to get its funding in order, as it depends on getting low-income housing tax credits from Michigan State Housing. Development Authority. The organization submits an application for the credits by April 1, but won’t hear back until July.

“It could take months, but you had to get assurances from the city council that they were willing to consider this transfer, because otherwise you’re not going to spend any more money on architects, engineers, rezoning requests, all the things that go into developing affordable housing for seniors,” he said. “Without the building, you have nothing.

Built in 1921, the school has been vacant since 2017. Although the building is described as structurally sound, the city found that it had numerous environmental contaminants and was in need of renovations, including a new roof, work electrics and a plumbing and ventilation system. improvements. The building also has issues such as lead, asbestos, and other environmental contaminants.

Siver, who is also chairman of the board of the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation, called the building “outdated”, but while Southfield could demolish the school for around $700,000, all he would remain, he said, would be vacant. property he couldn’t sell for how much it cost to demolish.

“There is a great story behind this building,” he said. “We’re all about adaptive reuse, honoring history. It was built for one purpose. The times have changed; we find another use. And we know in Southfield that we need more affordable seniors housing.

The Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation operates the McDonnell Towers, River Park Place Townhouses and Apartments, and Woodridge Apartments. According to Bonnie Krosse, board member of the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation, all buildings are full and have waiting lists because demand is still high.

“The (housing company) is involved in a number of seniors’ facilities, and they all have waiting lists,” she said. “You know, there is a need. I think the number Ken gave me was that 40% of our residents are over 60 years old. So with waiting lists for people and limited resources right now, it would be a great asset (to have another building).

Krosse said getting the funding and converting the school would be wonderful, because the building is beautiful and she would hate to see it torn down. She said the board is optimistic about getting the funding.

“It’s a beautiful old building,” she said. “It would be a gift for the community. It would be a gift for seniors to have more flexibility and opportunities, and it would be such a shame to see it destroyed.


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