Nonprofit plans to turn shuttered Cooley High School into Detroit opportunity hub

For decades Detroit's Cooley High School was a powerhouse for academics and athletics.  A little over a decade after the school was forced to close - vandals and weather almost brought it to a point beyond repair.

But now the nonprofit Life Remodeled, which repurposes vacant buildings, is bringing hope. The nonprofit's CEO Chris Lambert wants to buy the building from Detroit Public Community School District and transform the area into an opportunity hub.

"We have not bought the property yet, but we are planning to offer $400,000 this January.

Lambert, who would need approval presented from the Detroit School Board, plans to invest around $38 million in development over the next three years.

In the end - the plan offers education, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and a commitment to clean up blight and repair surrounding homes.

"I won’t walk into a community and tell you what you need – but I will walk into a community tell you what you deserve," said Brandy Haggins.

Haggins pointed to the Durphy Innovation Society - a previous project of Life Remodeled where Detroit students are currently thriving. She works there now - but wished the opportunity was there when she was growing up in Detroit.

The same goes for Darryl Woods who spoke with residents in the Cooley neighborhood where he grew up.

"It’s time for us to pay attention to the hood," said Woods, from Life Remodeled. "It’s time to pay attention to people in the hood, because they are crying out for change, crying out for transformation."

Partners have already committed to the Cooley Project. Cooley alum and Superbowl champion Lional Dalton will develop the athletic facility and football field.

"I understand the importance of athletics as a healthy distraction for our youth, to keep them out of trouble," Dalton said. "I have some teammates in the back. Without football, I would have been a mess."

Olicia and Stockar McDougall will offer the McDougall Technology Institute - which includes a junior college, career education, and student housing. Nonprofit the Methodist Children's Home Society will provide pediatric mental health services.

"We knew it had to be in the community by the community for the community," said Kevin Roach, Methodist Children's Home Society. "We could not do this without them."

"If everybody takes an area – if everybody takes a little something, then the whole Detroit community and city wins," said Bishop Charles Ellis, Greater Grace Temple.