Future of Cooley High School uncertain after Detroit School Board delays vote

Posted at 11:17 PM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 23:17:32-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The future of Cooley High School is still uncertain after Detroit School Board members decided to hold off on a vote.

They have concerns about the potential buyer and the current asking price.

Cooley High School closed its doors in 2010. Since then it's deteriorated and community members say so has the neighborhood around it.

"This evening I am very devasted because basically, to me, this whole thing is about money," said Charlotte Blackwell, who lives near Cooley.

Blackwell was one of many that attended the meeting and expected a decision on the future of the building.

"The vacant building is unsafe and life remodeled is the only group that has met with us and our community about Cooley school," said Francis Roland.

Life remodeled, a non-profit was in talks to buy the property for $400,000.

Superintendent Doctor Nikolai Vitti said a recent appraisal found the value of Cooley to be $530,000 more.

Life Remodeled CEO, Chris Lambert, says he was blindsided.

"About 24 hours ago I was told for the first time that we needed to pay $930,000, more than double the agreed-upon price, and that there would be a number of clawbacks that we don't even know what those are," said Lambert.

Vitti and other board members say there were holes in the purchase agreement that would make it difficult for the district to hold Life Remodeled accountable for their financial commitments.

Vitti also claims Life Remodeled planned to rent out land to third parties after purchase and did not disclose that upfront

He still thinks negotiations should continue.

"I would say we give that a couple of months and if we don't have an agreement, I would not say to re-bid because I don't think the conditions change much," said Vitti, "I don't think there is going to be new potential buyers."

Cooley alumn and board member Dr. Deborah Hunter-Harvill wanted the building sold before the end of her term in December.

"Let's do something with this property and I don't know if Cooley folk are out there and if you're here know that I tried," said Hunter-Harvill, "and I love you all and it's going to be alright sooner rather than later."

It's unclear when a vote will take place, but it's clear the community is growing impatient.

"Please move forward with this vote and do the right thing," said Blackwell, "put the community first."

Life Remodeled is still the favored buyer. Vitti says they were chosen because they proved they had enough money to buy the building and because they completed a similar project near Durfee elementary.

Vitti says if they can't reach an agreement there's a possibility the district will keep the building and eventually convert it into an athletic compound.