Nonprofit buys historic school
A local nonprofit has purchased a former elementary school that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Grand Rapids-based Inner City Christian Federation, or ICCF, a housing nonprofit, said today that it bought the former Eastern Elementary School in Grand Rapids, located at 758 Eastern Ave. NE in the Highland Park neighborhood, last fall.
The school has stood vacant since 2008.
ICCF purchased the building from Charter Development Company for $500,000, and it's the first school the nonprofit has owned.
The closest structure to a former school that ICCF has redeveloped is a former orphanage in Grand Rapids, at 920 Cherry St. SE, which has undergone a significant historic restoration and been repurposed as the nonprofit's offices.
“ICCF has great experience renovating large, historic buildings purposefully,” ICCF CEO Ryan VerWys said. “Our team is looking forward to finding a solution for this space that contributes to the health and vibrancy of the surrounding Highland Park neighborhood.”
Eastern Elementary School was constructed in the late 1920s and closed in 2008.
The four-story building houses about 62,500 square feet of usable space.
Eastern Elementary is located next to Eastern Park, which includes a playground, ball field and about 2.5 acres of green space.
The building's design is noteworthy for its intricate brickwork facade and glazed terra cotta exterior.
“Our intended use for this space is still unknown,” said Ryan Schmidt, director of real estate development and management, ICCF. “But we do know that the use will match up with ICCF’s mission and vision for the greater Grand Rapids community, as well as the city’s best interests in bringing new life to this long-vacant structure.”
ICCF has more than 40 years of experience in aiding community development, including providing affordable housing education and support services.
The nonprofit will launch community engagement efforts in Highland Park beginning in March to discuss plans for the building and its surrounding land.
These efforts will help ICCF determine the “best possible” long-term use for the Eastern Elementary building, with plans for financing an adaptive re-use of the structure to follow.