From teaching kids the three Rs Greektown’s long-forgotten St. Mary’s School has found a new purpose in teaching businesses how to grow. The former halls of academia will now be walked by business innovators, industry pioneers and urban thinkers.
This new destiny for the historic building at 1041 St. Antoine Street comes from JACK Entertainment. It will make this former school its new headquarters in December and bring along 140 members. It is currently housed at One Woodward Avenue.
The spirit of the school will live on. The goal of JACK Entertainment is to foster collaboration among team members while preserving and enhancing the building’s original architecture.
“This is an exciting period of evolution for our company and relocating to Detroit’s vibrant entertainment district is a big step for us,” says Matt Cullen, chief executive officer for JACK Entertainment. “Our move will bring us closer to our 2,000 team members at our Greektown Casino-Hotel and affirms our long-standing commitment to the Greektown district. It also provides us with the additional space we need to accommodate our dramatic growth.”
The building is connected to Greektown Casino-Hotel by a pedestrian skywalk.
The five-story, 29,000-square-foot former school building is currently undergoing a $7 million renovation to bring the long-vacant building back to life. The project architect is Neumann/Smith Architecture and the general contractor is Colasanti Group, both located in Detroit.
There will be large open spaces and a fifth floor mezzanine will be home to JACK Entertainment’s headquarters. The bottom level of the building is reserved for retailers to move in at some point in the future.
JACK Entertainment started its life as Rock Gamming LLC in 2009, with only 10 team members. In the corresponding years it has gained revenues exceeding $1.4 billion, as it spread across four states and gained approximately 7,000 employees across six properties in four states.
“At the core, our company is committed to urban revitalization,” says Cullen. “We believe in fostering positive change in the downtown areas where we reside and this move is consistent with that commitment. Our move is not only good for our business, it also gives new life to this historic building and it benefits those around us. Success for our Greektown merchants and community means success for Detroit.”
Designed by Puis Daubner, St. Mary’s has been a fixture in Detroit since 1868. In its long life it has been a school, orphanage and sisters’ residence. It became St. Mary’s Community Center when it ceased functioning as a school in 1966. As one of the oldest Catholic buildings in the state, it was made a historical landmark in 1980.
JACK Entertainment and its affiliates purchased the Greektown Casino, which is attached to St. Mary’s, back in 2013. A $70-million renovation of the casino was recently ended. The main parts of the update were a state-of the-art HVAC system for enhanced air quality, new technology and gaming options for guests, advanced LED lighting throughout the property and beautifully upgraded interiors.
The skyline and beloved architectural landmarks are getting a chance to stay around for Detroiters for years to come.