Focus on the Schulze Community – By Daphne Hughes
When you visit the northwest Detroit neighborhood known as the Schulze Community, you will see the Schulze name on the local elementary school. Frederick J. Schulze donated the land where Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts sits on Santa Maria Street. The original school was constructed in 1925, but it was demolished in 2002 to make way for the current state-of-the-art learning facility.
In fact, the educational opportunities in the Schulze community make it a great place to live. The newly rebuilt Mumford High School is in the area, along with two major institutions of higher learning, Marygrove College and University of Detroit Mercy.
The Schulze neighborhood has more than 9,800 residents in a one square mile radius, bounded by Six Mile, Curtis, James Couzens, and Wyoming. Bungalows and colonials dot the landscape, ─ perfect homes for first-time buyers and young families.
“I would describe the Schulze community as having small, single, starter family homes,” said Sean Davis, the City of Detroit’s deputy District 2 manager. “All of the houses are solid brick. You wouldn’t be able to rebuild these homes. You can, but you’ll pay an arm and a leg. You cannot find quality brick homes like you find in the Schulze community.”
Davis estimates that 95 percent of the homes in the area are occupied. As members of the city’s Department of Neighborhoods team, he and District Manager Kim Tandy are tasked with helping to eliminate blight and address residents’ concerns.
“We’re basically a partner of the City Ombudsman’s Office,” said Davis. “When complaints come in we try our best to address them, whether it’s streetlights being out, a tree that’s falling, or abandoned and burned-out houses.”
In order to strengthen and create a safer neighborhood, the District Manager’s office works closely with the area’s block clubs.
“It’s a very strong neighborhood,” said Davis, “and it’s getting better, because as residents start to see the growth of the area, they tend to get more involved. The impact that it does have is that people actually start to care. They are starting to be great partners with the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit.
“Block clubs are very important because they know exactly what’s going on in the neighborhood. They know who should be there, who’s not supposed to be there, who’s causing the problems, and who are advocates of the community. In order to build a community, you have to know your neighbor. And by knowing your neighbors, there’s better communication.”
The Schulze community offers many amenities for its residents. The Northwest Activities Center is a major anchor of the neighborhood, offering activities, services, events and programs to more than 300,000 visitors annually. The local grocery store, Liberty Food Center, has served the community for the past 30 years. And the area is welcoming its first new development in years — a seniors housing complex being built by longtime community partner, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. The church, located on James Couzens, has one of the largest congregations in Detroit and plays a significant role in providing services to residents and supporting nearby commercial establishments.
Without a doubt, the Schulze community is poised for continued growth as one of Detroit’s gem neighborhoods.
Focus on the Schulze neighborhood: Northwest Activities Center – By Daphne Hughes
Since 1974, the Northwest Activities Center has been a mainstay in the northwest Detroit neighborhood known as the Schulze community. The 165,000 square-foot facility is located at 18100 Meyers Avenue (at Curtis) and is open seven days a week. The center attracts 300,000 visitors annually and offers an array of activities, services and programs for all ages.
“The mission of Northwest Activities Center is to uplift the intellectual, spiritual, social and health conditions of the residents of northwest Detroit in particular, and the city of Detroit in general,” said Executive Director Ronald Lockett. “What we do is create a safe, wholesome, healthy space for all of us, irrespective of our gender and irrespective of our age. So, what we pride ourselves on is that we have literally babies here and we have seniors here who are in the twilight of their years. We feel that we are a safe haven for the entire community, and that’s important for people to have a space where they can feel peaceful and grow.”
The list of amenities and services at the center is extensive. There’s a full-service health club, Olympic-size swimming pool, gym, squash and racquetball court, sauna and steam rooms, cardio/weight room, and hair salon. The Michigan Works! Association and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation are both on-site to assist job seekers. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging operates an exercise and dance program for senior citizens. Plus, weekdays from 4 to 6 pm, young people are able to enjoy basketball, swimming, dancing, racquetball, tutoring and two computer labs.
“One of our computer labs is the Northwest Computer Clubhouse,” said Lockett. “It’s one of maybe 96 in the whole world. It’s an after-school program where young people can come to use state-of-the-art computer hardware and software and be creative. We have a sound studio for them to create music, as well as the technology to literally create films.”
The second computer lab is offered through Fifth Third Bank, a major partner of the Northwest Activities Center. The bank operates a micro-branch at the facility, which gives customers access to banking stations to conduct online transactions. There is also an ATM on site. Additionally, Fifth Third helped the center get back on its feet when supplemental operating funds began to dry up.
“The funding from the City of Detroit dropped annually over a period of years,” said Lockett. “Once it reached the 2000s, that’s when it started decreasing every year as the city was heading toward bankruptcy, and we had to cut, cut, cut until we reached a point in late 2012 through 2013 that we literally had payless paydays. So, we had to right the ship and by getting a corporate partner to do some smart re-engineering of the building and programs, we were able to come out of that strong and robust.”
Fifth Third Bank paid for renovations to the center, including the installation of a $50,000 floor in the facility’s DeRoy ballroom. The ballroom — along with the 488-seat Paul Robeson Performing Arts Theater and a host of smaller rooms — are rented out for events, therefore generating substantial revenue for the center.
“We do baby showers, birthday parties, repasts, family reunions and conferences,” said Lockett. “We just did a conference for two consecutive weeks with the Detroit Regional Chamber. I call us the neighborhood Cobo Center.”
Although operated independently, the Northwest Activities Center also houses the executive offices for the Detroit Parks & Recreation and General Services departments.
For more information on the Northwest Activities Center, visit nwac-detroit.net or call (313) 578-7500.