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New Meijer store set to replace Old Redford High School

Meijer plans to replace the old Redford High School in Northwest Detroit with one of its big-box stores, providing a prime example of demolition with a plan in the Motor City.

The former Detroit Public Schools high school's architecture served as a staple of the the Old Redford, Grandmont, Rosedale Park and Brightmoor neighborhoods at 21431 W Grand River Ave since it was built in 1924. It graduated a number of notable national personalities, including George C Scott before it closed in 2007.

The current development plan calls for razing the empty 1 million square foot school to make way for a new Meijer big-box store. The $22 million project will feature a retail, grocery and garden center. The Michigan Economic Development Corp provided brownfield tax credits worth $3.3 million from the state and $6.5 million from local government entities.

"In that respect it's a good thing there is a redevelopment plan," says Karen Nagher, former executive director of Preservation Wayne who now works consulting for historic redevelopment. "But I wish there would have tried to find a way to put retail and office space in there."

A common lament among Metro Detroit's preservation community is that many of the region's historic structures are razed with no plan to redevelop the property, leaving an urban prairie of blighted vacant lots. Some closed Detroit Public Schools buildings with remarkable historic architecture have fallen by the wayside in this way, including the historic Cass Tech building. The redevelopment of the old Redford High School building represents a move toward demolition with a plan for these sorts of structures.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp and Karen Nagher, former executive director of Preservation Wayne
Writer: Jon Zemke

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