Detroit, Emergency Managers — January 21, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Another casualty of Emergency Management: Detroit’s historic school buildings


Historic Detroit treasures lost in rush to save money

Eric T. Campbell has a fine piece up at The Michigan Citizen where he talks about the loss of Detroit’s historic school buildings. The Detroit Public School Emergency Managers Robert Bobb and, now, Roy Roberts, don’t appear interested in saving these historic buildings.

Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

The historic building that formerly housed Redford High School is now considered blight to many in Detroit’s northwest Redford neighborhood.

The 1.1 million square foot building, built in 1924, has been sitting vacant since 2007. With the announcement of a deal between Meijer, Inc. and Detroit Public Schools (DPS) that will bring the district $2 million, another Detroit high school faces the wrecking ball.

The DPS Office of Real Estate, headed by Tammy Deane, has listed over 80 decommissioned DPS properties currently for sale or lease. Preservationists are concerned about the lack of a broad plan for the fleet of decommissioned schools, many of which stand vacant and neglected. The longer they sit, the greater the chance they will face demolition.

“[Former DPS emergency financial manager Robert Bobb] said he would protect the older buildings, but he didn’t,” says former DPS architect, Bill Dickens. […]

“Detroit had the finest collection of school building architecture in the nation,” Dickens continues. “Tearing everything down does not solve anything. Any older structure can be reworked and revised at a greater savings than it costs to demolish. Detroit has become a demolition contractor’s heaven.”

This is something that our aging urban cities face with or without Emergency Managers. In Detroit, all it takes is a drive through the areas surrounding the downtown area to see the ghosts of a more prosperous time. Beautiful facades and ornate storefronts still peer out from behind boards and decay, telling the story of a city that was once bustling, alive and vibrant.

However, with Emergency Managers in charge, with their single-minded goal of balancing the books before they leave, how many of these treasures will be lost to the wrecking ball?