A vacant former middle school on Detroit’s east side will come down in December after the project won approval Tuesday from the school board.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District approved a $2.6 million contract with Detroit-based Adamo Group to raze Foch Middle School on Fairview. The demolition will make way for an expansion at Southeastern High School, which is adjacent to the property. Construction of the annex is expected to begin next fall and the Foch demolition is scheduled during the district’s winter break between Dec. 26 and Jan. 7, according to documents from the district.
The demolition is part of the district’s $700 million facility master plan to renovate, rebuild, reopen, or tear down its aging school buildings.
Foch Middle School, in the East Village neighborhood, was built in 1924 and served the community for nearly 80 years before it closed in 2004. While Foch is in overall good condition, the building has some water damage, vandalism and scrapping, according to a 2021 Detroit Historic Vacant School Property Study. Rehabbing the school would cost $20.8 million, far more than demolishing it, district officials have said.
The proposal was approved by six of the seven board members, with Sherry Gay-Dagnogo opposing it. During a school board finance committee meeting last month where the contract was first recommended for approval, Gay-Dagnogo questioned why a Black-owned contracting company was not considered for the project.
Vitti told BridgeDetroit earlier this month that Adamo was selected because it was the lowest responsible bidder, which is a practice required by state law. He also said that Assistant Superintendent of Operations Machion Jackson and her team have been engaging with Black-owned, Detroit-based companies and that the district may work with them on future endeavors.
Vitti said during the finance meeting that Foch was “run-down and “not worth the investment to renovate.” Instead, the district recommended that the building be torn down to allow for the construction of a new building to provide career technical education for Southeastern students.
However, some community members who live near the school said they wanted to see the Foch building repurposed into a child care facility, apartments, or a daytime shelter for the homeless.
“We need to preserve history, and we don’t do that,” Delores Orr, the president of the Cadillac Boulevard Block Club and an alumna of Foch, said this month. “It’s so beautiful. I don’t know how they have the heart to tear it down.”