Community Post

Can we save the old Horace Mann School?

Interesting article in Crosscut.


Those ideas for adaptive reuse of the old schoolhouse are exactly the wrong kind of uses for the building, says local property owner Ron Rubin. He urges the city to “resist the temptation to turn [Mann] into low-income housing or drug counseling” or any use that’s not financially “sustainable,” but instead focus on a commercial venture that will “make it an anchor in the neighborhood” akin to the Wallingford Center, another former school turned into retail space. Rubin has a vested interest in the neighborhood; he owns a 12-unit apartment building across the street from Nova and a series of garages nearby that he wants to convert to micro-businesses. Though he’s personally not interested in purchasing the building, he believes “the minute it’s closed, it should go up for sale.” There’s no doubt in his mind that an empty Mann building will attract “trash, vandalism, graffiti, drug dealing, and prostitution.”

“As the landlord, I think the school district has an obligation to the community. My fear is that they are not going to uphold their responsibility as a property owner and there is going to be a blight. It could easily sit vacant for two-three years.” He continues, “The city spent 10 years and $115 million on the Garfield project, yet there is nothing in that neighborhood that encourages pedestrianism or discourages drug-dealing. They should protect the investment they made in Garfield and the community at large. All the pieces fit together.”

0 thoughts on “Can we save the old Horace Mann School?

  1. Our neighborhood really needs more retail. This would be alovely building a property for it!!
    I keep dreaming of a central district art walk. Fostering artists and small business’s is a fantastic idea that would put more into the community.

  2. While I agree with many of the points made in the article, we have to look at existing examples. Wallingford center, while lovely, has never been a very successful retail space. Over the 15 years I’ve either worked or lived in the Wallingford area, countless businesses have come and gone. It is finally now solidifying with the new pharmacy and Tweedy and Pops Hardware moving in, both of which show the promise of long term tenancy. I would like it to be something more like the Phinney Neighborhood Center, offering community enrichment, art installations, etc. The Phinney Center is constantly in financial trouble. Of course, its a very stark reality that the CD is not Wallingford or Phinney, and I suspect lacks the same interest from developers and non-profits willing to operate out the space.