Detroit Prep Academy
The former Anna M. Joyce Elementary is the new home for Detroit Prep Academy.

Detroit charter moves into vacant elementary

Nov. 18, 2019
A $6.9 million refurbishing of the former Anna M. Joyce Elementary has created a new home for Detroit Prep Academy

A Detroit charter school has moved from space in a church basement to a refurbished former elementary less than a mile away.

Detroit Prep Academy says in a news release that the three-story building, the former home of Anna M. Joyce Elementary, has undergone a $6.9 million renovation. The 43,500-square-foot space has 21 classrooms, a kitchen, a cafeteria and a gathering/performance area.

"Restoring such a beautiful building in our neighborhood has truly been a joy,” says Kyle Smitley, founder of Detroit Prep Academy, which opened in 2016.

The Detroit district closed Joyce Elementary in 2009. Detroit Prep's initial efforts to buy the century-old building were stymied because the district wanted the property sold to someone who would use it as housing, Chalkbeat Detroit reported. After a legal fight and a change in state law, the charter organization was able to acquire the empty school.

The transaction was financed through a partnership of IFF, Capital Impact Partners and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Capital Impact Partners provided Detroit Prep with $1.725 million as part of a $6.9 million New Market Tax Credit transaction to renovate the building.

IFF, a Midwest-based mission-driven lender and real estate consultant, provided $2.75 million along with $6 million of New Market Tax Credit allocation, while JPMorgan Chase served as the tax credit investor.

Detroit Prep received additional funding from a variety of donors, including:

•The singer Madonna, who presented a $100,000 matching challenge grant;
•Born and Raised Detroit Foundation, which gave $10,000 when Detroit Prep reached its first 500 donors
•Grey Ghost Detroit, who teamed with the city’s top chefs to raise $75,000 at Detroit Prep’s 1st Annual Chef’s Schoolyard in April 2018, and over $100,000 at the 2nd Annual Chef’s Schoolyard in May 2019

Detroit Prep describes itself as the first diverse-by-design public charter school in Detroit, which intentionally seeks out children and staff of diverse backgrounds for the benefit of all.

The architect for the building renovation is Gensler.

Video: Detroit Prep Academy's new school building.

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