Workers log more than 476,000 hours at 14 active job sites with four school projects 100 percent complete as part of Detroit Public Schools’ $500.5 million capital improvement program

By the start of the 2011 academic year, $325 million in construction-related activities will be complete

Detroit—Since work began 12 months ago in one of the city’s largest construction projects that will build and renovate 18 Detroit Public Schools facilities, more than 476,000 hours have been logged by workers employed by Detroit-headquartered companies, 44 cranes and pieces of heavy excavation equipment are currently clawing away at 14 active job sites, and four school projects are 100 percent complete where students are spending their last weeks of this school year in modernized classrooms, gymnasiums and theater rooms.

Over the next 100 days, nine more schools will open for the city’s schoolchildren and demolition of the nearly 90-year-old Cass Technical High School will be complete, for a combined total of $325 million in construction-related spending funded by $500.5 million Proposal S dollars voters approved in 2009.

In a city where economic factors have hampered construction and development in some quarters, neighborhoods from Elmwood Park to Brightmoor are scenes filled with cranes, heavy earth-moving equipment and a myriad of other devices. In all, nine large cranes have dotted the city’s neighborhood landscape while over 35 earthmovers, backhoes and innumerable smaller excavators continue to prepare project sites for construction.

The workforce has completed 476,000 hours of work with over 45 percent of the hours going to Detroit residents. The workers have poured tons of concrete, wired miles of cable for bright light fixtures, laid thousands of new floor tiles, and used hundreds of gallons of paint for bright and colorful classrooms and hallways.

Gompers PreK-8

The four completed projects represent $35.5 million in construction spending.  John R. King Academy was renovated and fitted with a new state-of-the-art black box theater, Bethune-Fitzgerald Academy has been renovated with a gym addition, Marcus Garvey Academy has been renovated with new windows and a secure student drop-off area, and the new, high-tech DPS Police Headquarters & Command Center has opened with a 24-hour security system to enhance public safety on campuses for all students and staff district-wide.

Nine schools, three of which are brand new facilities built from the ground up, are scheduled to open for the beginning of school in 2011. They include:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School

The new $46.4 million building will replace the existing Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School with a LEED Gold Certified state-of-the-art facility emphasizing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Curriculum. The new building will have a cyber café and media center and will connect to the current auditorium and performing arts building, which will be remodeled. The opposite end of the school will feature a new varsity gymnasium and a multi-lane natatorium. MLK students will attend classes in the existing facility throughout construction; once students are relocated, the old building will be demolished. The design build team is Jenkins-Granger LLC, a 49 percent Detroit-headquartered joint venture. The architect is TMP Architecture.

  • PreK to 8 School at Clark Park

The 45-year-old Earhart Middle School and outdoor portable classrooms have been torn down to make way for a new $20.5 million LEED Silver Certified PreK to 8 school to be located on Scotten Avenue overlooking Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. The school will have separate elementary and middle school wings with shared common space for the cafeteria, administration office and multi-purpose rooms. Classrooms designed for art and science programs will be located on the first floor of the middle school wing. The upstairs classrooms will also feature large windows to bring in natural light. Students in preschool through second grade will be located on the first floor of the elementary wing with grades 3-5 on the second floor. The design build team is Brinker / Christman, a 50 percent Detroit-headquartered joint venture. The architect is URS Corporation.

  • Gompers PreK to 8 School

The new $20.5 million PreK to 8 school in the Brightmoor neighborhood will be located at the present Harding Elementary School site on Burt Road on the city’s west side. The new school will consolidate and replace three older buildings—Harding, Vetal and Gompers elementary schools. The existing Harding Elementary School and an annex building on the campus has been demolished to start construction of the new LEED Silver Certified two-story facility that will combine preschool students through grade 8 under one roof. A cafeteria, central administration office and multi-purpose room will separate the PK-5 and middle school wings. Classrooms designed for art and science programs will be located on the first floor of the middle school wing. The second story will house general classroom space and two common rooms with large windows for natural lighting. Students in preschool through second grade will be located on the first floor of the elementary wing with grades 3-5 on the second floor. An auditorium and multi-purpose room will also be built for the younger elementary students. The design build team is Brinker / Christman, a 50 percent Detroit-headquartered joint venture. The architect is URS Corporation.


  • Denby High School

The $16.5 million renovation of Denby High School includes construction of a new commons area for student dining and other activities, in addition to a major renovation to the school’s historic auditorium.  A portion of the existing dining area will be repurposed to provide adequate kitchen, serving, and delivery / receiving areas.  The remaining space will be renovated to create a new multi-purpose area designed for use as a senior high school student dining room and as meeting space for student clubs and organizations. The media center will be repurposed to include two computer labs, a small group room, and a team room. The upper level of the center allows for observation of the lower level while also providing additional remodeled group meeting rooms.  Classrooms will be modernized and upgrades will be made to the lighting and electrical systems.  Exterior upgrades planned are a new roof, a new parking layout, and new decorative fencing at the front of the building. The design build team is O’Brien Edwards / Turner, a 50 percent Detroit-headquartered joint venture. The architect is Kraemer Design Group.  

  • Western International High School

The $27.8 million plan for Western International High School calls for a new athletic complex with a swimming pool addition and an exercise facility for dual use by students and the community as a health club.  The existing pool will be filled in and the space converted into the visual and performing arts wing that will include a dance studio, language laboratories, and art classrooms in addition to a cultural center to serve as a community marketplace.  A security entrance will also be created, as well as renovations to the administrative area. The design build team is Colasanti / DCI, a 100 percent Detroit-headquartered joint venture. The architect is NSA Architects, Engineers and Planners.

  • Henry Ford High School

The $16.6 million renovation of Henry Ford High School will include an expansion of the existing student dining area and the addition of two sustainable technology labs. The electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems will be upgraded. An exterior courtyard will also be created to support green and renewable energy initiatives at the school.  Security needs will be addressed through the renovation, and the overall building square footage will be reduced to match the building’s student capacity with enrollment trends. The design Build team is KEO / McCarthy & Smith Team, a 50 percent Detroit-Headquartered joint venture. The architect is DiClemente Siegel Design & CM Partners Architects.

  • Northwestern High School

The renovation at Northwestern High School will provide a comprehensive educational experience for students, creating a 21st Century learning environment for students.  Realizing the positive educational benefits of natural lighting, light wells will be created to brighten the classrooms and the joint usage spaces in the school building.  Lighting upgrades and new mechanical controls will also enhance the ability of the school to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.  The design build team is Jenkins-Granger, LLC, a 49 percent Detroit-Headquartered joint venture. The architect is the Resendes Design Group.

  • Beckham PreK to 8 School

Renovations at Detroit School of Arts East – Duke Ellington at Beckham PreK to 8 School, totaling $5.2 million, will include an academic wing addition with eight classrooms and an arts addition with a dance studio, instrumental and choral rooms. It also will receive an upgraded security entrance. Duke Ellington East students will relocate to the new Beckham facility once the two additions are complete in 2011. The Duke Ellington East at Beckham program serves as a feeder school for the Detroit School of Arts, and the new addition is expected to enhance the school’s artistic offerings. The design build team is Clark’s – DeMaria. The architect is Cash & Associates.


  • Bunche Academy

The existing Duffield Elementary School building is being renovated to incorporate the $9.5 million Bunche PreK to 8 program.  The existing facility is a large, sound structure with significant architectural value.  Improved technology and classroom upgrades, including a new science lab, will support the academic focus of the school as a 21st Century learning environment. A centrally-located media center and project lab will be established on the second floor.  A portion of the existing east wing will be demolished and replaced with a new, properly outfitted gymnasium. Food preparation areas will be expanded and modernized to support student dining needs. In keeping with the bond program’s focus on safety, the main office, complete with a new security suite, will be relocated in close proximity to the main entrance of the school. The design build team is W-3 / Shmina, a 50 percent Detroit-headquartered firm. The architect is Resendes Design Group.


Detroit voters approved Proposal S in November 2009 which enabled the district to access $500.5 million for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the sixth largest allocation in the nation.

The improvement program also includes technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with Proposal S dollars. To comply with federal guidelines, all bond dollars must be spent within three years and all projects must be completed by September 2012.



Construction by the Numbers

Total projects 18
Currently active construction sites 14
Brand new schools/facilities (includes DPS Police HQ & Command Center) 9
Renovated schools 9
Demolitions 8
100% completed projects 4
Schools scheduled to open for fall 2011-2012 school year 9
Hours logged by workers 476,000
Detroit resident work hours 215,000  
Detroit-HQ company prime contracts Awarded 71% of prime contract values
Detroit-HQ subcontractor participation Awarded 58% of total subcontract values
Number of worker fairs scheduled 3
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