Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cool Warrendale Thing: Kosciusko

I posted before about the efforts to renovate and reuse the long-shuttered Kosciusko Elementary School (20220 Tireman St.) as a community center. The Detroit Community Design Center, which is a part of the University of Michigan's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, held a series of community meetings. All of this was done in partnership with the City of Detroit, with support from the Michigan Historical Center.

Over the course of several meetings with neighborhood stakeholders during the summer and autumn of this year, they were able to ascertain the needs of the Warrendale community. They then worked with residents and others to design a concept to adapt this vacant school into something that would meet those needs.

While the architects are still finalizing their plans, and things can still change going forward, I am proud to be able to discuss at least the preliminary details.

One of the shortcomings of the Warrendale neighborhood is that there is a shortage of quality child care facilities relative to the sheer size of its population.  This is why the preliminary plan envisions reusing some of the space on ground floor as a child care facility.  An independent, licensed day care facility would then rent this space in a redeveloped Kosciusko Center.

Also on the ground floor, these conceptual plans call for some of the old classrooms to be made available as office space for either non-profits or local business start-ups.  Each of these tenants would pay some type of rent, which is crucial in covering the utilities and other operating expenses for the building.

A fitness center is tentatively planned for the old gymnasium.  This space could also be repurposed as a banquet facility, if the need arose.

The old auditorium is reimagined as rehearsal and performance space for local artists.  It could also be used for lectures or meeting space for various community groups.

The second floor of this facility is imagined as supporting counseling and guidance resources for troubled or at-risk youth. It would also potentially have a computer lab, library and production studio.

The outside of Kosciusko is almost as interesting as its interior.  Besides having a separate play area for the day care center as well as a football field and community garden area.

Finally, the entire area would be connected to the proposed greenway project that is likely to move through the Warrendale neighborhood.

I need to emphasize, of course, that all of this is still preliminary.  However, the early signs for this project are extremely encouraging in my opinion.

As always, as more details become available, they will be reported on this blog.  Until then, Kosciusko Elementary and its potential reuse as a community center is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

With that, I'd like to open this up for discussion. What do you think of efforts to reuse Kosciusko Elementary as a community center?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.


James B. Willer III said...

Sounds like a plan. Don't underestimate the importance of curb appeal, connectivity and safety.

Orgnyzr said...

You should see the vision for curb appeal is outstanding, connectivity is on point,and safety probably won't be an issue. There has been not incidents regarding safety around Don Bosco Hall which opened in May on Chicago & Westwood.

Orgnyzr said...

The child care focus will be an early learning program, which is what our part of the city is lacking.

Orgnyzr said...

This plan will be presented to Mr Bobb, and ultimately will be in need of a developer and funding if approved by DPS for reuse or for sale.

James B. Willer III said...

If a profitable model can be shown for the intended uses, there shouldn't be a problem finding a developer. There are even banks out there looking to fund urban projects that are backed by the communities, regardless what everyone will tell you.

The first step would be to assign a rent structure and usage fee for the intended uses. Once you have an idea of how much the center could reasonably generate in revenues, you will have an idea of how much ancillary funding you would need.

$10/month for activity & early learning x 100 people = $1k/month
$10/s.f. for non-profit office space x 500 s.f. = $5k/month

James B. Willer III said...

Question. Is Don Bosco Hall part of the Warrendale community?

FrankNemecek said...

No, James, the Don Bosco Hall is a couple of miles north of Warrendale.

Chris said...

Didn't know Kosciusko was closed. Attended there (K - 6) from 1957 - 1964. Hope this project succeeds!

Eva G. said...

This would be great for the neighborhood! Looking forward to the developments. Robert Bobb is doing a great job.

Orgnyzr said...

I spoke too soon, Don Bosco Hall was a victim of attempted burgulary over the weekend, nothing was taken just some broken glass to clean up.

FrankNemecek said...

You jinxed Don Bosco!!!

observer313 said...

Child care facilities and a place for young people to gather, learn, perform and serve are definitely in order for Warrendale. There are no recreation, social or cultural outlets for our young people so they wander the streets aimlessly. This would be a wonderful piece to the renaissance of Warrendale.