Chene Street is one of those places you can go in Detroit if you ever need a reality check and want to experience a neighborhood in true despair. Over decades of abandonment and disinvestment, the crack epidemic and rampant crime, the once-vibrant working class community surrounding a retail and business strip morphed into a burned-out urban prairie, a place defined by poverty, emptiness and decay.
So it was something of a shock to see a state-of-the-art football field taking shape on the site of the former abandoned and heavily blighted Frederick Douglass Academy high school.
The field, at 2600 Mack Ave., has been owned since 2014 by the Detroit Edison Public School Academy, according to Loveland Technologies. The school is located a few blocks away at 1903 Wilkins St.
A woman who answered the phone at Edison PSA confirmed that the school was building the field but said it was “college decision day” for seniors and no one was available to answer questions about the project. The goal is to have the full facility ready to host games by the fall season.
I sent an email to the school’s athletic director, Monique Brown, but haven’t heard back.
The Detroit Edison PSA – Early College of Excellence, which houses students in grades 9-12, is one of six schools affiliated with Michigan Future Schools, a program of the nonprofit think tank Michigan Future Inc. The organization’s mission is “To create new small high schools at scale in Detroit and to support those schools so that thousands of additional Detroit students are prepared to enroll and succeed in college.”
The school had 1,501 students enrolled during the 2013-14 school year, 71 percent of whom were classified as low-income, according to a recent database of school performance compiled by Bridge Michigan.
Workers from a Southfield-based contractor were installing a rubberized track surrounding the field surface and said plans call for installing bleachers on two concrete slabs along the sidelines.
The field surface is made of a synthetic FieldTurf product, with a center circle at midfield, suggesting the field will also double as a soccer pitch. A building that appears to be a concession area is already complete on the property’s north end.