Durfee – Community Innovation Center

2017 – 2018 Neighborhood

As 2017 marks the 50th year anniversary of the 1967 Detroit uprising, Life Remodeled and our partners will invest in the neighborhood surrounding Central High School, the city’s first public high school, in the community where Detroit’s civil unrest began. This year’s project will serve not only as a powerful commemoration of the progress that has been made, but also the progress we continue to strive toward.

We are proud to announce Life Remodeled’s first two-year commitment to Central High School and the surrounding neighborhood as we take on our largest project to date.

  • Phase 1 Completion: December 2017
  • Phase 2 Completion: August 2018

Project Scope

  • Began to transform Durfee building into a Community Innovation Center
  • Assembled 11,032 volunteers to remove blight on 367 city blocks, and boarded up 534 vacant houses (July 31 – August 5, 2017)
  • Continuing to perform critical repairs for 53 homeowners
  • Continuing to develop meaningful and sustainable partnerships to advance community investment after project completion

Community Innovation Center

Due to the fact that Central High School students occupied less than 20 percent of their school building, the Detroit Public Schools Community District has relocated students from Durfee Elementary-Middle School to Central’s building, consolidating into one K-12 school.

Life Remodeled has leased the Durfee building (built in 1927, containing 143,000 square-feet) for just $1 per year, and will repurpose the historic school building into a Community Innovation Center focused on entrepreneurship, education and community.

Core Focus

  • Next-Gen Development:  Providing recreation, after-school programming and trailblazing new and effective career pathways for DPSCD students by providing real-world educational experiences.
  • Supporting Doers: Connecting and providing space for entrepreneurs and small businesses committed to innovating and launching impactful ventures in the Central neighborhood and throughout Detroit.
  • Creating Synergy: Cultivating an inclusive community committed to being and doing together.


The Community Innovation Center will operate in collaboration with Central High School and the Detroit Public Schools Community District to provide hands-on education to students. Entrepreneurs will guest lecture in classrooms and students will have the opportunity to learn subjects, like math and finance, with real examples from case studies of business ventures taking place within the center. Community members of all ages will have access to resources and space in order to learn about entrepreneurship and how to start or grow their own businesses. The center will also serve as valuable community and recreational space for families and their kids.