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Plans move forward to transform Otto Middle School into community center

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 22, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — A nonprofit organization has acquired the former Otto Middle School from the Lansing School Districts and plants to turn it into a community center and garden collective.

“Otto will be a full-service community center,” said Executive Director of the Advancement Corporation Derrick Knox Jr. “It will offer a medical clinic, mental health services, child and family services, child care services, and trade services.”

The 220,000-square-foot building on the city's north side has been vacant for nearly a decade now.

Otto Middle School Exterior Shot

Organizers with the Advancement Corporation said they’re working with more than 50 partners to prepare the building.

“We have people who are coming to help with us from the Ingham County Health Department, We are partnering with community mental health, we are partnering with MSU and people from other colleges that are giving us advice from our health care services and other mental health care services,” said Co-Director of the Advancement Corporation Lashawn Erby.

Organizers/partners gathering at Press conference on Thursday

“We have the LGBTQ community represented, Hispanic community represented, African American represented,” said CEO of DRM International Learning Center Reshane Lonzo. “I think with this, there were no bars held as to who can be involved with this. I think it was a very inclusive thought-out process.”

Organizers said they acquired the building from the Lansing School District for just $1. But before the community center is up and operating, the building must undergo construction to fix damage from the nine years when it stood empty.

Exterior Shot of Otto Middle School

“The building is going to have to be brought up to code,” Erby said. “There’s a lot of vandalism that needs to be corrected. A lot of broken glass and unsheltered people have been living there, so we have to really get those things taken care of first.”

Twenty Lansing School District students who are interested in a future in construction will help bring the building up to par.

Exterior Shot of Otto Middle School

“They can grow that hands-on experience into a career and possibly their own construction company and they could come back and give to the community,” said Robert Bisbee with DRM International Learning Center.

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Tianna Jenkins

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