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Workshop will help developers buy, repurpose school buildings

Cooley High School Detroit
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Cooley High School in Detroit. The school was one of many recently closed by DPS.

Detroit Public Schools officials are working to educate developers on strategies for purchasing and re-using closed school buildings.

The school system will host a workshop later this month in collaboration with an historic preservation non-profit. Potential buyers will get information about possible uses for the buildings, as well as information about tax credits, codes and the purchase process.

Karen Nagher heads Preservation Wayne. She says school buildings can be a great buy:

"They lend themselves to so many different things - community centers, churches, senior housing - great housing, period. I mean, you can see all of your facilities could be right there in one space."

Joel Landy will help put on the workshop later this month. Landy has bought or optioned four shuttered public schools in Detroit – including the former Malcolm X Academy, which Landy is converting into music studios.

He says demand has been strong in spite of the fact that he’s done little to publicize the space.

"It’s amazing," he said. "People call: 'do you have music lessons for my kid? I’m a singer I need to practice.' Just tremendous. I show it at least once a day."

Detroit Public Schools has 94 buildings for sale. Officials say sales over the last year and a half have generated more than $4 million for the district.

Here's a map of all the school closures in Detroit:

View Michigan School Closures in a larger map

You can contact Sarah Hulett at sarahhu@umich.edu

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.