The Former Joyce Elementary School

Located just northeast of downtown Detroit, on a street surrounded by single family homes and churches, sits the former Joyce Elementary School.

At the start of the 20th century, the area was rich agricultural land, but residential and commercial development in the area was on the rise with the influx of families to the metro Detroit area. Constructed in 1910 and named the Anna M. Joyce Public School, the building totals approximately 43,000 square-feet and is nestled in the heart of the Pingree Park neighborhood.   For years, the school housed children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and even underwent a few name changes, until finally ending on Joyce Elementary School.  The school stayed functional, although dated and showing signs of aging and decay, until 2010 when it was permanently closed.

By the time 2018 came around, Joyce Elementary School, which had been vacant for almost a decade, was ready for a new chapter in its story. 

Looking for a permanent home to house its growing student population, Detroit Prep, a Detroit charter school, knew Joyce Elementary School was the perfect pick.  The school is located less than 1 mile from their current location and will give Detroit Prep the ability to serve students in grades kindergarten through eighth. 

To bring the building up to code and ready for the transformation it needs to be a functioning school, Detroit Prep retained PM Environmental to complete environmental due diligence at the property.  A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was completed, identifying no Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) at the property.  

As for the interior of the building, major work is needed. PM was contracted to perform a Pre-Renovation Hazardous Materials Survey to identify any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM), lead paint and other hazardous materials prior to any renovation activities.  Due to the results of the survey, asbestos abatement was required.

During the abatement process, PM conducted OSHA Compliant Lead and Cadmium Exposure Monitoring on abatement workers.  Workers exposure levels were found to be below what is allowed for exposure to airborne lead and airborne cadmium.  After the asbestos abatement was completed, PM conducted Post Asbestos Abatement Clearance Testing.  Samples were collected and analyzed with the results indicating that clearance levels were achieved.  

Work at the school is ongoing and every month brings something new checked off the list, while still upholding the history and character of the building.  Over the course of the next six months, Detroit Prep plans on replacing broken and missing windows, patching and repairing walls, freshening up the interior with new paint, refinishing the 125-year-old oak floors, install new electrical and lighting, and install all new heating and cooling.  

Generous donations from Detroit’s Grey Ghost team, the Born and Raised Foundation, Madonna, and others has helped spur along the redevelopment phases.  If you are interested in learning more about Detroit Prep’s new home or would like to find out more about how you can help, check out their site here.


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