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Media technology school to open in former police precinct building in Southwest Detroit

Renovating the old police precinct

Located near the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, the old Detroit Police Department Third Precinct building has seen some creative adaptive reuses since the DPD left in the 2000s. Detroit Farm and Garden, a landscaping, farming, and gardening supply store, currently occupies the back of the building and surrounding lot.

555 Gallery rented the front of the building for a few years, converting the station and its jail cells into an art gallery. That gallery has since left and, after a period of vacancy, a new tenant has signed a ten-year lease for the front section of the old precinct at the corner or 21st Street and Vernor Highway, a building owned by Southwest Solutions.

The next tenant will be the Detroit School of Digital Technology (DSDT), a post-secondary school focused on 21st century media technologies, including video, graphic design, 3D printing, and coding. Already state-licensed and awaiting a pending national accreditation approval, DSDT students will soon be able to apply for Pell Grants and other financial aid programs.

DSDT, which is hoping for an early-October opening, will offer associate degree and other certificate programs. The school is a subsidiary of Astute Artistry, a fashion, film, and makeup trade school located in suburban Berkley.
Computer library at DSDT
Jamie Kothe, DSDT school director and CEO, says that the school is geared toward professionals currently unhappy with their work situations, as well as young adults not wanting to spend the money on traditional four-year university programs. Kothe also hopes to offer the space to local community groups as a sort of computer library. Freelance professionals will be able to rent equipment from DSDT.

Kothe found the space as a result of the Motor City Match contest, which connected her with landlord Southwest Solutions. In a subsequent round of Motor City Match, Kothe won a $50,000 grant. "I've met so many people that have helped me get this far," says Kothe.

She started transforming the space in December of 2015, often locking herself in at night to clean and paint the more than 7,000 sq. ft. first floor. Now it's outfitted with state-of-the-art media technologies, including dozens of Apple desktop computers, several 3D printers, and a DaVinci Resolve control board for video and image editing.

The building retains much of its original character. The old cell block is still there, each of the 21 cells now individual computer stations. But Kothe is still debating what to do with the rest of the space. A second floor is empty and unfinished, including an old locker room and basketball court, the latter of which may be converted into a conference room, events space, or art gallery. The basement contains numerous mysterious cubby holes, a utility room well-suited for students' horror film sets, and the old shooting range, which Kothe hopes to one day turn into an old fashioned movie theater.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is hosting a grand opening and open house this Thursday, Sept. 15 from 5 to 10 p.m. Tours, entertainment, refreshments, and giveaways are planned. It is open to the public.

Detroit School of Digital Technology is located at 1759 W. 21st St.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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