Detroit, Archdiocese to turn old school into housing

The Detroit News

Detroit — The city has partnered with the Archdiocese of Detroit on a project that will convert the vacant Transfiguration School in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood to a mixed-income apartment building.

The pilot effort aligns with Mayor Mike Duggan’s strategy for strengthening neighborhoods and could lead to other a continued partnership to redevelop other AOD assets in other city neighborhoods, officials said Wednesday.

Under the collaboration, the city will market the building for housing redevelopment and assist with affordable housing resources and permitting.

Detroit’s Department of Housing & Revitalization is seeking proposals from developers to turn the site into 15 to 25 residential units, of which 20 percent will be affordable housing, officials said.

The 21,500-square-foot school, at the southeast corner of Luce and Syracuse streets near the Detroit-Hamtramck border, served Catholics in northeast Detroit for 80 years until it closed in 2005. The building is located on the campus of what’s now called St. John Paul II Parish.

The city’s Banglatown neighborhood is home to a dense cluster of Bangladeshi-Americans as well as a large numbers of African-American, Yemeni, Polish and Bosnian residents.

Nearly two-thirds of residents in the area live at or below the poverty level, city officials said, and a mixed-income residential development would provide modern and affordable housing options.

“Banglatown is such an important piece of our city’s fabric and a neighborhood that has struggled with a high rate of poverty and abandonment,” Duggan said in a released statement. “Whenever we can, we are going to find ways to bring new investment into this neighborhood and others like it. This new partnership with the Archdiocese is a great first step for those efforts in Banglatown.”

Arthur Jemison, the city’s housing and revitalization director, said the archdiocese approached the city shortly after Duggan began his term in 2014 to discuss ways to work together. If the pilot proves successful, the city and archidiocese hope to pursue the joint approach in other areas of Detroit, he said.

“Buildings like Transfiguration were anchors in many neighborhoods and can be again, but with a different use,” Jemison said. “Working collaboratively to redevelop a building like this makes a lot of sense. It will send a signal to developers that the city is in strong support and engaged, which we expect will encourage more quality developers to submit proposals.”

Archdiocesan Director of Properties Michael McInerney said the archdiocese is optimistic there will be similar opportunities in the future. “We are pleased to work with the city in re-purposing our unused properties in ways that support the health of the Archdiocese and will help stabilize the broader community,” he said.

Bids should include a walkable, mixed-income development with plans to preserve the building’s historic architecture, officials said.

The request for proposals is available at

Questions and submissions can be sent to All proposals must be received by 5 p.m. May 22.