Detroit — A former elementary school that sat vacant for nearly 10 years will be put to use once again as part of a $6 million project that will create a 32-unit senior cooperative housing community, officials announced Thursday.

The vacant Holcomb Elementary School on Bentler Street will become St. Matthew Cooperative. The school sits on a 5.5-acre property in the city’s Old Redford neighborhood.

In addition to the housing units for seniors 62 and older, the project will include walking paths, parks and two interior courtyards.

"Because it's such a nice school in an up-and-coming area, I think it blends in with the character of this neighborhood," said Armeace Williams, vice president of Anchor Team on Thursday as she stood in one of the classrooms that will undergo renovation.

"...There are two courtyards outside without having to be outside of the building. We plan to have a community room, a salon, fitness center. There are so many activities the seniors can partake in as residents here."

The City of Detroit chose the development team, Detroit-based Anchor Team and Brighton-based DDC Group, to redevelop the school after requesting proposals late last year. The city held 10 community meetings over the course of a year before selecting the development team.

Developers expect to break ground on the project as early as summer 2019 and construction is expected to take about a year. Before it can begin, the team will gather further input from the community to decide on a final design for the school and surrounding land, city officials said. 

Holcomb is the first of 77 vacant Detroit Public Schools buildings that will be renovated and returned to use since the city acquired the properties from Detroit Public Schools in 2015.

“The redevelopment plan for the old Holcomb Elementary School is exactly the type of development that we encourage as our neighborhoods grow,” said Donald Rencher, director of the city's Housing and Revitalization in a statement Thursday.

“This school has been an eyesore to everyone living in this neighborhood for nearly a decade. Now it will see new life, provide affordable housing for our senior citizens and build new public spaces for the entire community.”

The project will largely consist of one-bedroom units and be affordable for seniors making 80 percent of the area median income, which is about $39,760 a year for an individual. Residents would likely pay about $800 a month, Williams said.

The $6 million project is funded through 85 percent private and 15 percent public funding, Williams said. 

According to the city, the development is part of a larger Grand River Northwest planning area.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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