Detroit Historic Vacant School Property Study

The Detroit Vacant Historic School Building Study Report is the result of a one-year assessment of vacant schools in Detroit conducted by the City of Detroit in 2020. The objective of this project was to complete a holistic, comparative study of 63 vacant historic-age school properties (VSPs) in Detroit, including 39 owned by the City of Detroit (City) and 24 owned by the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and to make recommendations regarding their redevelopment potential. One key goal of this project was to develop a set of metrics and strategies that can be broadly applied to VSPs across the city in order to assess, prioritize, and market them for redevelopment. A second major goal was to identify the opportunities and challenges of preserving, rehabbing, and reusing historic vacant school buildings, and imagine new futures for these special places. The study serves as a comprehensive tool to guide effective decision making around the disposition of these properties. 


School Buildings Collage


See the below PDFs of the project report, which include the following:

  • Detailed building conditions assessments of 39 City-owned VSPs. Assessments include interior and exterior walkthroughs and detailed assessments of building envelope, structural systems, architectural characteristics, and historic significance. 
  • Reconnaissance-level conditions assessments of 24 DPSCD-owned VSPs. Assessments include interior and exterior walkthroughs, and assessments of building envelope and architectural characteristics. 
  • Current floor plans for all of the VSPs
  • Building conditions summary reports for all VSPs, including descriptions of the overall condition of the structure, facade, and roof systems, and an overall Building Risk Index (BRI) score that based on the type, severity, and distribution of distress. 
  • Order-of-magnitude construction cost estimates for general building stabilization and rehabilitation (to a greybox state) for all VSPs. 
  • Neighborhood analysis for all VSPs, including mapping surrounding building stock, open space, land use, ownership, and key neighborhood assets. 
  • Market analysis for all VSPs, including demographic trends, economic trends, and key real estate market indicators.
  • Redevelopment recommendations for all VSPs including for sites that are viable for reuse and for those deemed non-viable. 
  • Investment memos for highpotential City-owned VSPs, including schematic-level reuse scenarios, order-of-magnitude construction costs, and pro forma templates
Historic Schools Silhouettes


The project website  After School Detroit | Historic Vacant Schools is an easily-searchable online guide to the 39 VSPs that are owned by the City. Here, you will find information about each of these unique, historic sites, as well as resources and ideas about the future of these sites should you have an interest in their condition, history, and/or redevelopment potential.