Vacant house could soon become innovative Solar Training House in Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood

What’s happening: A vacant house in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood could soon become a hub for community empowerment thanks to the work of nonprofit organization Community Treehouse Center Detroit. And recent inclusion in a statewide placemaking initiative should help organizers get closer to their goal.

What’s planned: The Community Treehouse Center Detroit first purchased the vacant house on Eastlawn Street from the Detroit Land Bank Authority in September 2022, where work has since proceeded to transform the once blighted space into the Solar Training House. Community Treehouse has a lot of plans for the space, with community and renewable energy at its core. Planned programming includes solar technologies workforce training, community gardening events, nutrition classes, mental health programs, and more.

How they’ll do it: While work on the community center has been underway since September 2022, including the gutting of its interior, installation of new basement windows and roof, landscaping work, and more, setbacks like the recent theft of said basement windows have occurred. In support of the project, Community Treehouse was recently accepted into the Public Spaces Community Places initiative from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Municipal League (MML), and Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

Should organizers successfully raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign hosted on Patronicity, the MEDC will contribute a $50,000 matching grant in support of the project. Funding from the campaign will be used to cover construction costs associated with the project, including new windows, flooring, universal accessibility infrastructure, and more.

The campaign, which is available online, is currently open and expires at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5.

What they’re saying: “Innovative thinking coming out of Detroit's eastside neighborhoods is nothing new,” says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The area is a bastion for local initiatives, and the Solar Technology House will provide a first-of-its-kind community hub that will serve residents for years to come.”

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

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