Friday, March 28, 2008

Queen Anne Gym Is Sold (and hey, look at that snow!)

(Is it snowing in your neighborhood? In Ravenna, it has been since about 12:30 and is now starting to stick to landscaped areas but not the ground. It's pretty but it's also spring.)

This article appeared in today's Times, noting the sale of Queen Anne Gym. From the article:

"Seattle Public Schools has struck a deal to sell the Queen Anne gym to the same developer that converted the old Queen Anne High School into condominiums, but this time it appears the district got a better deal.Lorig Associates will buy the 1.1-acre site for $7.5 million, assuming the School Board approves the details this spring. "

"The Assessor's Office values the Queen Anne gym and property at $4.8 million."

Yes, the district did do better this time but it has never explained or held accountable the person(s) who signed off on the first Queen Anne High deal. To wit:

"Under a 1986 contract between the district and Lorig, the district was to end up with only 12 percent of the proceeds when Lorig sold — about $6.5 million. At the time of the sale, the land alone was worth $1 million more than the district received, according to the King County Assessor's Office. According to the lease agreement, once the building was converted to condos, the district was to give up its ownership of the building and land and sign over individual deeds to the new condo owners."

That is so painful to read because we lost money on the deal and, of course, lost the land that we could have used for QA/Magnolia high school students.

I did end up called Emily Heffter, the Times' reporter, about this last sentence:

"Under state law, proceeds from sold property can't be used for ongoing maintenance or any of the district's academic programs or day-to-day expenses."

Her answer was, of course, those monies can only be used for capital projects (probably anything as big as a roof replacement on up). After this sale goes through, it would be good to track that money and ask specifically where it is going.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, could the proceeds go into an endowment fund?

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

The money can likely be used to help pay down the balance on the Raj Mahal at 3rd and Lander.

Anonymous said...

Raj Mahal at 3rd and Lander?? You are one sick, racist S.O.B. You probably think you are sooo progressive, tolerant, and intellectual when, in reality, you are really a bigoted Seattle liberal. How anyone can take you seriously is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing when I read that. Though I diagreed with many of Mr. Manhas' decisions, I was so ashamed of the ugly epithets that were hurled at him in public when he appeared at public events. The "Raj Mahal" comment is just another example of how far Seattle has to go in regards to racism.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to be accurate, the headquarters was created as an idea of former superintendent, Joseph Olchefske. He seemed to believe consolidating all the district offices would save us money but alas, once again, he was wrong. That building is costing us money.

Anonymous said...

from the SPS website:
"The Superintendent Raj Manhas Scholarship was created by his colleagues upon his retirement to honor the four years he served as Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools (2003-2007). This award reflects Superintendent Manhas' personal and educational background. Mr. Manhas, a native of India, rose from humble beginnings to earn two degrees in engineering. Following his master's degree from the University of Washington, he worked in business, government and education. Hence, students planning to study science or engineering will be given special consideration in the award selection process."
from Jan 07 Seattle paper:
"He joined Seattle Public Schools in 2001 as chief operating officer and was appointed superintendent in 2003."
As COO, he knew this purchase was a financial risk. And selling the old central office building in Queen Anne? The $20 million reserve money is gone now. Surprise, surprise. Let's sell some more neighborhood buildings to nonprofits to turn into charter schools.

Anonymous said...

How many times did we hear about our superintendent's humble beginnings? So what? Did it have any effect on how he responded to school closures? Did the north end schools get what they wanted and the central, south end, and West Seattle building expenses get distributed fairly? He was voted in by the old Board because the old Board's Alliance of Education allies and business friends told them to keep that spending and selling going as it did. He was not exactly what you'd call "a man of the people."

Charlie Mas said...

When the JSCEE was built, the District committed to making an annual report every May of the savings the building created. It may have been part of the Board resolution that authorized the loan and construction.

As Superintendent, Mr. Olchefske grudingly reported that the building did NOT save more money than it cost in interest expense on the loan to build it (as promised). Mr. Manhas, as Superintendent, never gave the report.

Michael said...

Just to be clear - again - the district didn't BUILD the JSCEE. The money from the bonds was used to remodel/refurbish the building. It originally was the postal distribution facility for, I believe, the Puget Sound area.

And since when does a leader have to "a man of the people?" Many effective and accomplished leaders have been from outside the dominant "corporate" culture. "A man of the people" implies that a leader will not in fact be a leader but, rather, a follower that does not have a guiding vision beyond the crowd that backed them for whatever post they hold. Someone like that would be afraid to go against conventional wisdom even when that "wisdom" is flat-out wrong. A good leader often goes against such wisdom because it is the right thing to do. Based on the racist remarks I heard about Raj, even here in the comments (see 4:49 PM), I would have to say that he was a good leader in that he offended many people who think they know what is best for the district and our children.

Mike-former QAHS student said...

Has Lorig received the final Ok for the QA Gym project, and if so, when is the building to begin?