Holly Schoolhouse to Become Boutique Hotel & Banquet Center

Holly Schoolhouse to


Become Boutique Hotel & Banquet Center

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 6, 2017)

Holly, MI – Holly’s queen of re-purposing has another grand transformation in the works – the conversion of a 1913 schoolhouse into a boutique hotel and banquet center with a speak-easy.

Cari Cucksey, host of HGTV’s Cash & Cari and owner of RePurpose and The Holly Vault, announced at an Oakland County Planner’s Gathering Friday that she and her husband Vince would be opening the hotel by the end of 2018.

Currently the property at 111 College Street in the Village of Holly houses a schoolhouse that was built in three phases. The oldest part of the building, which is single-story cream-colored stucco, was built in 1913.  Its unique design included bathrooms that could be accessed from the outside so that during sports practice and games students could use the facilities without having to leave the entire school unlocked.  In 1927 the two story addition was completed, and more was added on in 1954.

The building was used as a school, and then by the River Church for about ten years.  The purchase of the property puts it back on the tax rolls after 104 years of being nonprofit.

The hotel will have 22 boutique style rooms – each with their own personality and décor.  There will be 17,000 square foot of banquet room space total between three rooms, including a theatre and gymnasium that will be re-purposed.  Hotel space will be 11,444 feet and there will be 3,000 feet of kitchen and 10,560 feet of office and common space.

“We’re going to keep as much of the architectural features and elements as we can in the design,” Cucksey said.  “The classrooms will have to be remodeled into hotel rooms, but we’ll keep some details like the chalkboards.”

The couple has not yet decided on the name, but could incorporate “schoolhouse” somehow.

The project is expected to bring 275 construction jobs to the area and create 60 full-time equivalent jobs when completed.

The Planner’s Gathering was held inside the banquet room at The Holly Vault, another historic building that the Cucksey’s restored.  They fell in love with Holly two years ago when they came to look at the property, which they originally turned into a décor store.

“I remember when I came to look at this building, I was talking to the Village Manager and the DDA Director and this little girl riding past on her bike saying ‘Hi Jerry.  Hi Andy.’ And we walked across the street to Zanie Janie’s and everyone was like ‘Hi Jerry.  Hi Andy.’ And I thought, this is like Mayberry or something, did you guys plan this?’ But I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

They opened RePurpose but two things happened. One is that a month and a half after moving into their apartment above the store, the couple learned they were expecting their first baby.  The other thing is that people kept inquiring about renting the space for events.

So they made the switch from retail to event space, and the popular venue is now booking weddings and events well into 2020.  They just opened a new RePurpose location in Downtown Pontiac with someone else managing it so they can concentrate on their Holly projects.

“People come here for events, and they ask us where they can stay. There isn’t any place really close by,” she said.  “This is something that the area really needs.”

Funding for the schoolhouse redevelopment is coming from a mix of sources.  $2 million is coming from PACE financing.  Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, is a long-term financing tool for commercial property owners in Oakland County to pay for energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy upgrades.  Property owners receive 100% pre-funding for energy savings upgrades on their facilities and pay the PACE loan back through a special assessment on their property taxes.

There is a $600,000 in historic tax credits, $500,000 in Brownfield tax credits, $50,000 in Michigan Historic Preservation Network loan and $200,000 in private equity.

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Learn more about The Holly Vault at https://www.hollyvault.com/.


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