Some Madison Valley residents were convinced the fix was in. The Seattle School District would wait out the clock, let August pass, and then city permitting rules and remodeling costs would make it financially impossible to turn the old MLK Elementary School into a community center. But according to Seattle Schools spokesperson Teresa Wippel, last month the school district worked out a deal with the city to extend that timeline, with the city agreeing to allow the building to be occupied in early 2011 without having to bring the old building up to current development codes.
That change opened up a new window for revised bids from the parties that are vying to purchase or lease the property, which has been empty since the school was closed by the district in 2006.
The big surprise from the new bids is a new bidder: the Central Area Development Association has submitted a bid to purchase 33% of the property for $750,000, proposing to create a new community center, through either remodeling the existing building or constructing a new structure with 2 classrooms.
The obvious question is what would happen with the other 67% of the property. CADA isn't specific on that, saying that they are "flexible" on how to best utilize any space not taken up by the community center, while also saying that they would seek $2.5 million from the state to purchase the entire property.
A possible additional answer shows up in the new bid from The Bush School. In addition to a $750,000 reduction in their purchase proposal (to $3 million), they include a new option that would take a 99 year lease on 74% of the property, leaving space for a community organization to build a small community center on the northwest corner of the property. However, 74 + 33 != 100, and the Bush school hasn't responded to our query about whether they are working directly with CADA on a bid.On the face of it, it would seem like a win because the neighborhood would gain a community center, a weekend soccer field (from the Bush School) and the district would gain some money (although follow that bouncing ball of capital money and try to see where it would go).
But there's a group - Citizens for a Community Center @MLK - who have bid and would like the whole space for a community center. Interestingly, their bid went from $100k to $2.5M.
From the article:
One of the political difficulties for the school board has been the risk of selling a private property to a monied private interest such as the Bush School. A combined proposal between Bush and a non-profit like CADA could be a solution to that problem. But the local support in Madison Valley for CCC@MLK would likely leave some hard feelings in the community if that proposal is rejected.
The school board will be briefed on the updated bids in September.