Project Announcement Historic Tax CreditNew Markets Tax Credit

Historic School Transformation Unites Nonprofits to Launch Comprehensive Service Hub in Pontiac, Michigan

Written By: NTCIC

“Pontiac is a comeback city, writing the story of its recovery. We are doing our part by growing healthy food, making sure neighbors are known, kids are resourced, and services are accessible.”

Originally built in 1921 during Pontiac, Michigan’s automotive boom, the historic Webster School is set to embark on a new chapter as the Webster Community Center. Led by local community development corporation Micah 6 Community, the Center will combine over a dozen service- and development-oriented providers and nonprofits under one roof, creating a transit-oriented integrated hub of health, education, and opportunity.

The National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC), a tax credit syndicator and subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is proud to support the project development through a $7 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation and an equity investment in the $5.5 million of Historic Tax Credits generated from the preservation efforts.

Continuing a Legacy of Education and Opportunity

The historic 54,000-square-foot Webster School opened during Pontiac’s population boom, as tens of thousands flocked from the south to work in the rapidly growing automotive manufacturing industry that originally put the city on the map. After the school eventually closed in 2008 and stood vacant for over a decade, this historic building is set for a new life.

Once complete, the Webster Community Center will be a vibrant ecosystem of over a dozen nonprofit and service-oriented organizations, all dedicated to providing critical resources to children and families.

The Center will feature a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center aimed at addressing the community’s lack of access to primary healthcare, a HeadStart program operated by Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA), and diverse youth enrichment programs including music, theater, art, sports, and STEM, all offered at minimal or no cost.

Webster will also include education and workforce training programs for adults, including a distance learning lab operated by Rochester Christian University and a commercial kitchen led by Micah 6 Community to support local food entrepreneurs while scaling up their existing food distribution services into a full food co-op.

“The Webster Community Center is going to provide essential services that our community has long needed,” stated Coleman Yoakum, developer of the project and leader at Micah 6 Community. “Moreover, our enrichment programs in arts, sports, and technology are tailored to foster creativity and learning in a nurturing environment and to give the children of the community a variety of developmental options. This project is about building a sustainable future where every resident has the resources they need to succeed.”

To improve access, the project will consolidate three bus stops at the center’s entrance and establish an indoor transportation hub with amenities like Plain and Fancy Food shop for food and coffee, another incoming tenant.

Community-Led Revitalization

Founded in 2012, Micah 6 Community is a neighborhood-based community development corporation dedicated to addressing key challenges in their community, such as limited access to healthy food, insufficient youth activities, and a lack of resources for unhoused individuals. The nearest grocery store to Webster Elementary is more than a mile away, a significant barrier given that nearly 30% of local residents do not own a car.

Recognizing these needs, Micah 6 Community initiated its first project by purchasing a vacant lot in 2013 to establish a community garden. This effort has since expanded to encompass over an acre of gardens and greenhouses, collaborating with local farms to provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce to the community at no cost. Micah 6 Community continues to make a meaningful impact through these initiatives and ongoing dialogue with residents. Over the years, they have established afterschool programs, a summer camp, and a holiday gift donation and distribution program.

“Micah 6 Community has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to revitalizing Pontiac. Their passion for the community and unwavering dedication to delivering essential resources were crucial in making the Webster Community Center project a reality,” said Marcus Jones, Project Manager at NTCIC. “Working alongside such a motivated and community-focused group has been an inspiring experience.”

NTCIC is proud to have supported this project, recognizing the profound impact that the Webster Community Center will have on Pontiac’s local community. The project exemplifies the high-impact, community-led initiatives that the New Markets Tax Credit was designed to support, highlighting its role in facilitating transformative developments that truly benefit the community.

To learn more about the history of the building and its new use, click here.