City of Farmington Hills has plans for Harrison High School

Farmington Hills city officials are expected to present plans next month to repurpose Harrison High School as a community center.

Declining enrollment and tight finances led Farmington Public Schools trustees to set a June 2019 closing date for the sprawling campus on 12 Mile Road in Farmington Hills. Initial talks centered around moving district administrative offices, transportation, services housed in the Maxfield Education Center, and possibly Farmington Central High and early childhood education classes to the empty building.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

After months of discussion, the City of Farmington Hills has formally declared its interest in the 240,000-square-foot facility. The letter of intent was received during a December 19 school board workshop.

On November 28, consultant Paul Wills of Plante Moran Cresa provided trustees with an activity timeline  that would follow receipt of the letter. He pointed out that the potential for community or municipal uses was one of the reasons a facilities committee first identified Harrison for closure.

Willis added that city and district officials have had “multiple conversations and meetings” regarding lease and purchase scenarios, with title work and an appraisal underway. He said a final vote on the city’s offer could come as soon as June of 2018, if trustees formally accept the offer in January.

According to meeting minutes posted on the city’s website, city manager Dave Boyer told council members during a January 28, 2017 goal-setting session that Harrison could provide needed space for expanded swimming pool operations and a theater. Mayor Ken Massey said then that the move could provide amenities originally promised through the parks and recreation millage at a lower cost than building from the ground up.

The city funded a study of the Harrison facility, and consultants presented site and floor plans for the proposed $19-$20 million renovation during a November 13 council study session. Council members leaned toward purchasing the property, but also discussed plans to lease the first two floors, with school administrative offices on the third floor.

Offer details will be revealed during the city’s formal presentation, which is expected during the January 9 school board meeting.

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