After more than a decade of having his efforts trying to turn the long abandoned Larimer School into an anchor for housing, career training and economic development for the neighborhood, a frustrated Emmett Miles has finally thrown in the towel.
On Sept. 8, the Urban Redevelopment Authority board voted to purchase the massive three-building complex for $250,000. If he’d been able to complete any of the renovations he had planned for the 53,000 square-foot complex the price would have been higher.
But despite the building’s historic and architectural significance—and the fact that its location now makes it eligible for federal Choice Neighborhood Tax Credit financing—Miles could never get the funding needed to realize his vision. He said there is a simple explanation for that.
“If I were a shade or two lighter, this would have been done years ago,” he said. “But what do you do? No one wants to see a Black man own it. I kept fighting an uphill battle that was never ending.”
Using the school as the lynchpin for broad-based neighborhood revitalization was originally the brainchild of the late community activist Ora Lee Carroll. She envisioned the main building as a senior housing facility with space in the other two filled by medical and human service providers.