LISC Launches $5 Million Loan Fund Targeting Redevelopment of Surplus School Buildings in Detroit

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is offering to provide up to $5 million in financing for developers seeking to bring new life to vacant school buildings and properties in neighborhoods across the city of Detroit.

According to Tahirih Ziegler, Executive Director of Detroit LISC, with the launch of its School Redevelopment Fund, LISC will be able to make financing available for project pre-development, construction and long term debt needs to both nonprofit and for profit developers. LISC offers competitive financing to cover acquisition and other development soft and hard costs, gap financing and technical assistance by leveraging local and national LISC resources and experience supporting adaptive re-use projects.

A formal announcement was made at the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Developers’ Conference on Reuse of School Buildings on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at the Gleaners Community Food Bank, 2131 Beaufait in Detroit.

“We are excited to partner with the Detroit Public Schools in an effort to redevelop and put back into productive use as many vacant and under-utilized school facilities as possible,” said Ziegler. “LISC supports the position of the DPS Administration that with good planning and financial resources, these buildings can once again contribute to the vitality of our neighborhoods as innovative living and gathering places for residents and businesses,” she added.

Several DPS-owned vacant school buildings and parcels are located in neighborhoods designated by LISC as Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) neighborhoods, including Springwells Village (SW), Grandmont Rosedale (NW) and the Grand/Woodward (North End) areas of Detroit. These communities have developed comprehensive, resident-led Quality of Life Plans which include visions of housing for seniors or mixed-income residential projects and the revitalization of neighborhood commercial districts. The LISC School Redevelopment Fund will also support reuse projects located in neighborhoods in strategic investment areas throughout the city of Detroit.

“We would like to thank Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for this important and timely financing opportunity to assist developers who want to purchase and rehabilitate vacant school buildings. Creative/adaptive reuse of these structures is a major focus of the District’s real estate philosophy, and is critical not only to our community, but also our school district. The future of DPS is rooted in partnerships like this” stated Jack Martin on the announcement of the fund.

As a national Community Development Financial Intermediary (CDFI) LISC has provided technical assistance and financing for pre-development and construction of school repurposing projects as close as Flint and in distressed urban neighborhoods in Kansas City, MO and Duluth, MN. The adaptive reuse of the historic OakSchool in Flint’s Grand Traverse Neighborhood into a senior housing project is currently under construction and will be one of the case studies presented at the upcoming DPS conference on March 13th.

For more info on the Detroit LISC School Redevelopment Fund contact Robert Dewaelsche, Deputy Director, Detroit LISC at 313-596-8222, extn. 22 or

About LISC

LISC combines corporate, government, and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised more than $12.9 billion and leveraged $38.3 billion to build or rehab more than 303,500 affordable homes, develop 49.4 million square feet of retail and community space, finance 180 schools for 72,000 students, build 184 child care facilities which support 19,700 children, and renovate 269 playing fields for 467,500 kids. For more information, visit

About Detroit LISC

Serving as the leader in comprehensive community development in metro Detroit for over 20 years, Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has provided capital, technical expertise, training, and information to develop distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity. Since 2011, the Building Sustainable Communities model has been implemented in Detroit, using three strategies to create healthier communities: improvement of physical infrastructure, engagement of residents in crime prevention/public safety, and helping residents become financially stable. Since 1990, Detroit LISC has invested $175.2 million and leveraged an additional $738.4 million to create 3,753 units of affordable housing and 1.8 million square feet of commercial space. Detroit LISC is a leader in community development and demonstrates that locally-driven redevelopment can transform neighborhoods by infusing capital and development capacity in to community based projects. For more information, please visit

About Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools is creating Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools at 97 campuses with a mission to provide a comprehensive educational experience that is high-quality, challenging and inspires all students to make a positive contribution to society. DPS offers a wide variety of educational advantages to students and parents including Individualized Learning Maps for all students. New this year, arts/music and sports leagues for boys and girls are being offered at every elementary/middle school. Prekindergarten offerings have been expanded to 70 schools across the district for all qualified 4-year-olds. Twenty-one schools are now open as CommunitySchools, offering extended hours and services. Students in grades 8-12 enjoy take-home Netbooks and students in grades 6 and up have access to Netbooks in school. An outstanding Fine Arts program with instrumental music, vocal music and dance is also offered. Ongoing advantages include eight parent resource centers, Parent University and additional parenting programs, enhanced safety initiatives, a district-wide Customer Service focus, nine Detroit Rising College Preparatory Schools and DPS-authorized charter schools led by educators with proven track records of raising achievement. In 2013, DPS graduates earned more than $146 million in grants and scholarships. To learn more about Detroit Public Schools, visit or call 313-240-4DPS.

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