Contact Information:


Mobile: 313.310.6502


Nicole Pitts,

Cooley Reuse Project President and Founder


Mobile: 313.399.0062

LaMar Williams,

Cooley Reuse Project Founder

January 2019: Update

Above: (From Left to Right) Terrence Couch, Cooley Alumni Leader, Soaring Cardinal Foundation (Cooley Alumni from 1970-1979); enthusiastic Cooley Alumnus; LaMar Williams, Co-Founder of Cooley Reuse Project at ARISE Detroit Clean Up Day at Cooley High School, Detroit, Michigan.

 Unfortunately, for the second time in two consecutive years (2017 and 2018), DPSCD (Detroit Public Schools Community District) has taken Cooley High School off of the real estate market which has thus prevented Cooley Reuse Project from purchasing the property.


Interestingly, DPSCD did not reject our two offers to purchase Cooley; they, instead, stopped the purchasing process -- both times, DPSCD's actions took our team by surprise.


Even more surprising, reportedly, Cooley's owner has serious financial issues, so much so that there may not be enough money for DPSCD to maintain and redevelop this precious but deeply scarred National Historic Landmark. This assertion is based on reliable sources detailed below.


In November 2018, Crain's Detroit Business, a local and reputable online and print business publication, has reported on DPSCD's financial status, and it looks quite bleek --


Moody's, a credit rating agency, has downgraded DPSCD's credit which affects DPSCD's ability to raise funds and negatively affects Detroit's emergence from its historic bankruptcy.


Due to an estimated $530M in necessary upgrades and repairs to DPSCD's currently open school buildings -- not including the new finances needed to resolve lead in the water supply to schools -- there is the looming possibility that DPSCD will need yet another bailout from the State of Michigan which, in turn, affects Detroit financially, too, according to Crain's Detroit.


Superintendent Vitti and DPSCD's Board of Education have worked diligently for several years to improve DPSCD's schools, staffing, curriculum and infrastructure, making it a safe and inviting place for students to learn. However, with financial needs in the hundreds of millions (an estimated $1.5 billion by 2023) and the expense of maintaining more than 20 empty schools -- Cooley High School is among them -- the very distant prospect of funds for developing these vacant schools costing tens of millions is dismal at best.


For the reasons above, Cooley Reuse Project continues to work with its partners and allies to find a means to work with DPSCD to meet its goals and the community's immediate need to remove blight which is a documented magnet for crimes such as homicide, prostitution, theft, assault and property vandalism. In other words, blight leads to lower property values and continued decline.


Indeed, everyone who learned in 2018 that a woman's unclothed, fatally-beaten body was discovered at Cooley High School in its rear parking lot was shocked by this violent homicide, a tragic crime. Neighbors have reported dead animals, dumped trash, including construction debris, abandoned automobiles and even a small pleasure boat in its unfenced parking lots. The fence was stolen long ago, in 2012, by scrappers and never was replaced.


However, thanks to the work of vigilant neighbors, Calvary Community Association, Belmont Community Council, Cooley Alumni, District 1 Department of Neighborhoods leaders, City Councilman Tate, volunteer groups and various clean up initiatives like ARISE Detroit Neighborhoods Day, Cooley High School's property has been maintained noticeably better than most of DPSCD's surplus properties (closed schools) of which Cooley is one of over 20.


Our community deserves a more financially capable neighbor, and currently, Moody's has concluded that DPSCD is not able to adequately address its financial obligations. Therefore, we continue to seek ways to work toward a mutually beneficial partnership with DPSCD and its Board of Education.


Thankfully, all groups have a strong foundation of shared values from which to build.


Above: (Left to right) Nicole Pitts, Founder of Cooley Reuse Project and Congresswoman Sherry Gay-Dagnogo at ARISE Detroit Clean Up Day 2017

May 2018: Update

Above: (Left to right) ARISE Detroit Clean Up Day 2015: Chet Pitts, Founder of METPlus, a 501c3 and Cooley Alumnus, State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, neighborhood child, Cooley Reuse Project Volunteer, Michelle Keeble; Nicole Pitts, Founder of Cooley Reuse Project

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 DPSCD Board of Ed Meeting at Mumford HS Yields Updates on Cooley:
After having a conversation with a knowledgeable insider at May's open DPSCD Board of Education meeting, I received confirmation on one very important news item regarding Cooley:
Within two month's time -- by the end of July 2018 -- a decision is expected to have been made as to Cooley's ownership. Whether it is Cooley Reuse Project or another entity, the community's ultimate objective is for Cooley to be redeveloped responsibly.
Update on Woman's Body Found at Cooley:
There have been updates on the tragic news story about the woman whose severely beaten, naked body was found in Cooley 's parking lot last week. She did not survive, but they have a sketch of a person thought to be her killer. Video camera footage of the suspect offers some hope, and the family has asked for the public's help finding the man.
Fox 2 News seems to have given the most coverage to this highly upsetting murder.
Mayor Duggan's One Year Public/Charter School Transportation Loop Pilot Approved:
The DPSCD Board of Education voted to approve a one year bus loop pilot in Northwest Detroit 's District 1 (Cooley 's area) which was proposed by Mayor Duggan.  This transportation loop would be used by both public and charter school children.
During the public comment portion of the May 22 meeting, the Mayor's motives were brought into question by several community members, yet others spoke out in support. Detroit parents of school-age children like myself turned out to address the Board and Superintendent Vitti as well as activists, teachers, professors, administrators and even a lawyer who disputed the legality of the mixing of charter and public school students in one transportation system.
The transportation plan will cost $1000 per student which was an intense point of debate. To the pilot's credit, safe and reliable transportation to and from school -- or to after school programs -- will be made available to Detroit 's school children who use this system. 
After one year, the transportation plan will undergo a review which will determine whether it should be continued and expanded.
As more details come to me, I will share them with you.

April 2018: We Welcome Investors

Our Attorney, Rochelle Lento, Partner at Dykema, PLLC

March 2018 Update: We Welcome Financial Partners -- Cooley is For Sale ... Again

Above: Image taken from Jordan Ahnen's Facebook Post, October 2017

March 2018 Update: Cooley Reuse Project seeks financial partners who believe in the power of sincere action. Deadline: End of March.


For six years, one by one, we have assembled team members who are committed to this Northwest Detroit neighborhood's vitality.


Join us in partnership!


Now that Cooley High School is for sale again, with the right financial partners, the community can celebrate the reopening of Cooley High School as a community resource for all ages and abilities.


As of last week's DPSCD (Detroit Public Schools Community District) Meeting on Monday, March 5, 2018, Cooley and 23 other properties are once more available for sale.  (See DPSCD website for details: The very narrow window of time to resubmit and recommit partners may be a challenge, but we will meet it.


However, at the March 5 meeting, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD Superintendent, announced that Cooley High School will only be sold for "the right price," implying that he and some board members value the property very highly. 


After being the victim of vandalism, theft (over 350 windows stolen), and arson (Cooley's 1,000 seat theater burned in September 2017), the National Historic Landmark that once stood proudly in Northwest Detroit no longer does. All of this occurred despite the best efforts of DPSCD police and Detroit Police Department officers' protection.


Cooley Reuse Project seeks partnership above all else.


With our network of residents, community leaders, Cooley Alumni groups and community-building organizations, as well as locally based contractors and professionals, we will support Cooley's current and future owner. 


Why? Because we love and support our community.



November 2017 Update: Cooley and All DPSCD Properties Taken Off the Market Until Further Notice; Shutters to be Installed Soon

Above: Cooley Theater Fire, September 2017. Taken by Detroit Firefighter and posted on Facebook.

In recent weeks, as of November 2017, a great deal has changed with Cooley's for sale status. According to DPSCD (Detroit Public Schools Community District) leaders and its website -- -- all of its surplus (unused) real estate will be evaluated, and later, new uses or sales will be announced. Until DPSCD has evaluated its properties, no properties will be sold.


Estimates to review and assess its properties range from one to two years, but DPSCD leaders told Cooley Reuse Project's Team that there was no timeline in place for this work to be completed when we met in late August 2017. This may have since changed.


As DPSCD continues its work, Cooley High School and other properties are slated to be fitted for highly secure shutters (rather than plywood). DPSCD Operations has said that installation should be done in the coming weeks, not just at Cooley but at other DPSCD-owned school buildings that need to be secured.


Despite the suspicious fire in Cooley's 1,000 seat theater on September 30, 2017, DPSCD has continued to stand by its commitment to redevelop this Northwest Detroit Landmark. In fact, Dr. Vitti, DPSCD Superintendent, has obliquely referred to Cooley being a site of redevelopment in recent  interviews.  Also, it has been revealed that Dr. Vitti was immediately impressed by Cooley's architecture and grand presence. However, the speed at which visible progress has been achieved is less than desirable.


The community, Cooley Alumni, community organizations, block clubs and lovers of Detroit architecture are anxious for change. Therefore, to assist DPSCD, Cooley Reuse Project has offered its resources and materials -- Cooley's floor plans and 3D renderings, State Historical Designation application, security services, and more -- to DPSCD through DPS Foundation.


DPS Foundation is a totally separate 501c3, whose mission is to support DPSCD's students, staff and school initiatives. Keeping the community's needs in mind, DPSCD's Fisher Magnet Academy on Detroit's East Side is the site of a multi-million dollar partnership with Ford Motor Company investment dollars, and DPS Foundation spearheaded this initiative in cooperation with DPSCD -- 


Needless to say, other communities would like to see even more examples of private and public dollars -- like Ford Motor Company's -- working to grow community services and stronger communities and families. Kudos to DPS Foundation for their recent success, a win for everyone.


As of mid-November 2017, DPSCD has yet to utilize the in kind donations Cooley Reuse Project has offered through DPS Foundation. However, Cooley Reuse Project continues to welcome DPSCD's partnership in aligning DPSCD's efforts with the community's security needs and desire to maintain property values.

(See Google Drive link for details:


Please continue to look for more updates in the coming weeks as Cooley Reuse Project has a firm commitment to being a watchdog and supporter of Cooley High School's reactivation and redevelopment, the Belmont Community and those who value Detroit's history.



Nicole Pitts


Cooley Reuse Project


Mobile: 313.310.6502

50 Volunteers Joined Us: Cooley Volunteer Day: Sat., Aug. 5, 2017, 10 am - 2 pm

ARISE Detroit! is sponsoring Cooley Reuse Project's volunteer efforts for the third year in a row. Thanks to our partnership with Detroit Calvary United Methodist Church (15050 Hubbell, across from the street from Cooley), we will serve food and beverages to volunteers from 10 am -12 noon.

Above: First ARISE Detroit Cooley Clean Up Day (2015) with generous, dedicated Cooley Alumni volunteers.

Above: Local Firefighters from Firehouse 53 (at Greenfield Street and Fenkell Street) volunteers who generously volunteered to water newly planted greenery at Cooley's first ARISE Detroit Clean Up Day in 2015.

Want to Open Cooley Again?

We do, too.

General Description of the Development Plan

Above: Co-Working Space in Typical (925 sq ft) Cooley High School Classroom in Historic Building

Designed by Michael Ford

University of Michigan's Student Documentary Award Winner, 2014:

Video by Jennifer Larson, Larson Lens

American Black Journal Hosts Cooley Reuse Project's President, January 17, 2016

Pulitzer Prize Winner and NPR radio program host, Stephen Henderson, interviews collaborative community leaders who work together for change in Detroit, Michigan: C3 (Charles Thomas), Rippling Hope (Rev. Carl E. Zerweck, III) and Cooley Reuse Project (Nicole Pitts).

Physical Improvements

Phase I: 

To stabilize and secure property as well as generate income for upcoming phases ...

  • Repair holes in roof in backstage theater area
  • Secure property using Videofide-like system, fence, on-site security
  • Renovate Kitchen 
  • Renovate Theatre 
  • Restore Library


Phase II: Community Center

  • Pool Restoration 

  • Basketball Courts Uprade
  • Restore Basketball Courts and Suspended Track 
  • Restore Gun Range for Detroit Police Department Use or Convert to other use (e.g. Music Studio)

Phase III: Lease and develop 64,000 square feet of non historic building

Nature of Ownership



Cooley Reuse Project

Equity Stakeholders:


Cooley Reuse Project Partners


Proposed Uses of Space


Exterior Spaces:

  • Baseball

    Diamond:  Cooley fitness programs and Open for Community's Use

  • Football

    Field: Cooley fitness programs and Open for Community's Use

  • Outdoor

    Track: Cooley fitness programs and Open for Community's Use

  • Cooley Grounds: Community gardens 

Interior Spaces:


Historical Building

  • Theatre: Movie and Performance Venue
  • Library:

    Lease and develop space

  • Pool, Shower, and

    Locker Area: 

    Lease and develop space

  • Basket Ball Courts and

    Suspended Track:

    Lease and develop space

  • Classrooms in

    Historical Building: 

    Lease and develop space


Non-Historical, 1970s Addition:

  • Classrooms in

    1970s Addition: 

    Phase I: Lease and develop 64,000 square feet with overhead doors, storage and outdoor space

  • Kitchen and

    Walk-in Refrigerators:

    Lease and develop space

  • Cafeteria

    (Adjacent to Kitchen): Lease and develop space

  • Former St. John's

    Clinic Area:

    Lease and develop space