Sept 15, 2008
SEATTLE – Following months of negotiation, the Seattle School Board will soon decide whether or not to accept a purchase and sale agreement that will allow the Phinney Neighborhood Association to buy the former John B. Allen Elementary School for $3,050,000. The agreement is set to be introduced at the Sept. 17 School Board meeting. A final vote is expected on Oct. 1.
Allen Elementary was one of several Seattle schools closed in June of 1981 due to declining enrollment in the district. The PNA has leased the buildings since October 1981, creating the Phinney Neighborhood Center, a unique multi-purpose community center that is operated by the neighborhood rather than the City’s Parks Department.
The Phinney Neighborhood Center is Seattle’s best known community center and has become a model across the nation for how to build community. It serves as the focus of the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhoods with a wide variety of programs, services, events and activities – everything from childcare to beer tastes, a tool lending library to soup kitchens – that attract over 20,000 people each year from throughout the region. Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers donated over 23,000 hours to PNA programs and activities.
Purchasing the site has been a long-term goal for the Association, notes PNA Executive Director Ed Medeiros. “The PNA has been careful stewards of the Allen School for almost three decades, preserving these historic buildings for community use. Ownership will help guarantee that the community continues to determine the future of this valuable neighborhood asset.”
The School District placed the school on its surplus property list in spring 2007 and offered the Association the opportunity to purchase the site. School District staff commissioned a third party appraisal of the property based on a variety of uses. The property was landmarked by the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission in February 2008, limiting some of those uses. PNA and School District representatives have been negotiating since spring 2008 on the details of the purchase and sale agreement.
“We’re happy to have come to an agreement with the School District that we believe represents a win/win for everybody – the district, the Association, and most importantly the community,” Medeiros added.
In anticipation of the sale, the Association earlier this year launched a $12 million capital campaign, Community Begins Here, to finance both purchase and major improvements and renovations to the site.
“Ownership is just the first step,” Medeiros notes. “Over the years, members and neighbors have developed a comprehensive site plan that includes new entryways, new elevators, a new hillside park, and new community gathering spaces. Once we own the buildings, these dreams can finally become reality.”
“And because preservation, sustainability and stewardship have always been part of the PNA’s values, we’re going to insure that those values drive all of the improvements and renovations as well. Our vision is to create a living, sustainable, enduring community space that retains the character and charm of these historic, landmarked buildings for generations to come.”
Last fall, the Seattle City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels appropriated $2.5 million for purchase and improvement of the Phinney Neighborhood Center. The State has also designated $4.5 million to be used to purchase surplussed public schools. That money will be divided among Allen and four other schools.
With additional donations from individuals and foundations, the PNA’s Capital Campaign has so far raised just over $4 million of the $12 million goal.
For additional information about the PNA and the Phinney Neighborhood Center, visit www.phinneycenter.org.
Contacts: Ed Medeiros, Executive Director, 206-783-2244 email@example.com (H-206-782-6232)
Ann Bowden, Development Director, 206-783-2244 firstname.lastname@example.org
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