Keego Harbor residents file restraining order to halt demolition of Roosevelt Elementary

Community members are still fighting to preserve the historic building that once housed Roosevelt Elementary School, even after the school board voted to tear it down earlier this week.

West Bloomfield School District's Board of Education approved the demolition of the school in Keego Harbor by a majority vote of 4-2 on Monday, March 18.

The building is over 100 years old, and Roosevelt holds the record for being Oakland County's longest continuously operating school building.

Kirsten Douglass of Keego Harbor has been leading the charge to save it for about four years.

"This is really the heart of our community," Douglass said.

Now, a group of Keego Harbor residents are waiting to find out if their restraining order to halt the slated demolition of the city landmark will be approved.

"Anytime someone walks by, you’ll hear people talk about their grandparents went here, their pictures are inside on the wall," Douglass said. "And so, it’s just a beacon in our community."

The demolition is set to take place in June. The West Bloomfield School District told FOX 2 in an email that the decision is part of a broader restructuring effort for its schools. 

Yet, locals trying to save the building claim multiple offers to buy the building and redevelop it have been denied or outright ignored – including a $1.7 million offer made this week.

Joe Novitsky, an architect at JSN Architecture, offered to buy the historic building for $1.7 million to turn it into an apartment complex. 

"Each classroom is a perfectly sized apartment. It makes a wonderful apartment for some lucky residents," Novitsky said on Monday. "The reality is we’re not short on students. We’re short on affordable homes."


Board votes to demolish historic school in Keego Harbor

The decision to tear down Roosevelt Elementary School was approved by a majority vote of 4-2.

"The proposal is multi-use where there would be apartments – I believe on the second and the third story," Douglass said. "There would be an area for the community to use it; they would love to redo the playground that was demolished. We just want to keep this building here. We don’t want a five-acre field in the center of our community."

Supporters of the building's demolition said there have been serious structural problems, including a partial ceiling collapse in an unused classroom in 2022. Because of the collapse, Roosevelt students were forced to learn remotely until they were relocated. 

Some believe the ceiling collapse could have been prevented with renovations that would have come from bond money that was approved in 2017. Instead, the bond is being used for the demolition of the school.

FOX 2 Detroit reached out to the district with several questions, but have not heard back. 

"We’ve heard the district. They were concerned about charter schools, that was debunked. They were like, ‘no one’s offered to purchase the building.’ They didn’t list it, but we found developers that want to repurpose it – they see the beauty in this old building," Douglass said.

The group that filed the injunction to halt the demolition will find out if it will be approved on Thursday.