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City seeks developers for Banglatown school conversion to mixed-income housing

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City of Detroit - Transfiguration School

A new development opportunity on the east side could bring modern, affordable housing to a densely populated diverse area.

In Banglatown, near the Detroit-Hamtramck border, the City is planning to redevelop a vacant Catholic School into mixed-income housing in collaboration with Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD). The City just released an RFP in hopes of finding the right developer for the unique project.

The school, established in 1925, served Catholics living in northeast Detroit until it closed in 2005. The 21,500-square-foot Transfiguration School Building is located at the southeast corner of Luce Street and Syracuse Street, on the campus of what’s now called St. John Paul II Parish. The school is currently owned by the Archdiocese.

The building could be converted into 15-25 residential units, 20% of which will be affordable housing. Many of the building’s original features such as terrazzo flooring, tin ceilings, and original woodwork are in excellent condition.

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

The city’s director of housing and revitalization Arthur Jemison says that the City and AOD are working to make this pilot project work and hopes to take a similar approach to other neighborhoods. “Buildings like Transfiguration were anchors in many neighborhoods and can be again, but with a different use,” he said.

The Banglatown neighborhood is home to one of the nation’s densest clusters of Bangladeshi-Americans and the only place in America where one can get a voting ballot in Bengali. The diverse neighborhood is also home to African-Americans, Yemeni, Polish, and Bosnian populations.

Nearly two-thirds of Banglatown residents live at or below the poverty level and a mixed-income residential development could provide modern, affordable housing options for the community.

A summary of the project can be found here, and proposals are due May 22.