Community Post

Update:New bidder on MLK school, and Bush offer drops $750k

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. (Update: They aren’t – see update below)

The existing building would still be demolished in the Bush proposal, making room for a new soccer field for use by the school. But Bush has made new commitments to allow community use of the field after school hours and on the weekend, and also to allow community groups to rent classrooms in their school buildings for meetings or other events.

Other bids saw updates as well, with the CCC@MLK organization increasing their bid by $100,000 to $2.5 million. They also reduced their proposed rental rates to be significantly lower than prevailing lease rates in the area, and added new commitments from other community organizations, including the James Washington Foundation, Seattle Chefs Collaborative, Green Plate Special, and St. Clouds. Some of those new organizations will include additional youth programs that will raise the percentage of youth usage above 50%, a key threshold identified by the school district.

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.

All four updated proposals are included above. Refer to our story from last fall to see the original bids.

Update: A spokesperson from The Bush School got back with us and said that the school is not coordinating with CADA in any way, and that they didn’t even know about CADA’s interest until the revised bids were released today. But she says that Bush “continues to have a strong interest” in the MLK Elementary property.

Update x2: A few tweaks to the update above that were inaccurately paraphrased by us in a phone interview with Bush School staff yesterday. The Bush School is not currently coordinating with CADA, and their 26% set-aside for community center space was not designed for any specific party, but only based on the minimum amount of space required to build a playfield. Bush was aware of CADA’s interest in the property, but did not know any details of their bid, such as how much space they required, until the bids were released yesterday.

0 thoughts on “Update:New bidder on MLK school, and Bush offer drops $750k

  1. It’s just that you have a lot of errors in your postings.

    Okay, so 74+33 does not equal 100.
    I know it’s close and all, but it’s not 100.
    Its 107.
    And what’s with the 33 factorial (33!)?
    33 ! = 8.68331762 × 1036
    That’s a really big number you know?
    Not a conspiracy number between CADA and Bush.

    I think you and Eyes should come up with a law of 5’s theory that mathematically explains the containment zone conspiracy going on in our neighborhood.
    ‘twould be a great read!

    Just sayin’

  2. Can we all just cut to the chase? Bush school is going to get the property because that’s the way it goes. Them that has, gets. The board pretending that a CC has a chance against Richie Rich just annoys me.

  3. Thanks for keeping such a close eye on things. Unfortunately it looks like my little programmer’s joke didn’t come across, but what I was saying is that the math doesn’t add up: 74 + 33 != 100 means “seventy-four plus thirty-three does not equal 100.” i.e., the two proposals are not currently compatible on a numerical basis.

  4. And the irony of it gets to me. The way the public schools are losing ground—in more ways than this very literal example—to the private schools.
    Education is now for the rich, apparently. Wherever did I get the idea that education was a right and not a privilege?

  5. But everyone bidding is going to have a have a bunch of money, right? Yes, the Bush school already has its money in hand, but everyone else who’s bidding is going to have to have the same kind of money if their bid gets accepted.

    I’m not saying anything about the School Board, because I don’t know much about their thing. But, this property issue hinges on one group or another having millions of dollars in their hands and then being able to manage it well.

    Compared to most of us, whoever runs the MLK property is going to have to be “really rich.” And for our sake, whoever it is, who is going to be like a really rich organization that owns this property, is going to have to be really good at managing millions of dollars in relationship to property and program development activities.

  6. money is money, yes. But I’m not talking about financial parity. I’m talking about political disparity between the classes.
    That school wouldn’t have been closed in the first place if there wasn’t political disparity between the haves and the have nots. Apples to apples? What is the difference between McGilvra/Stevens and a school like MLK? Yea I’m beating a dead horse…I know. You’ll see, Bush will get that school. Probably the *real* reason MLK was shuttered in the first place. Demographic projections for this neighborhood are inconsistent with closing schools.

  7. I agree that there are rotten class / political inequities that caused the MLK school to be closed.

    If, in this current discussion about that property, we were being given a choice between the MLK school reopening vs the Bush School taking over the property, I’d be totally with you–I wish the MLK public school would reopen, and I miss it.

    If we’re just throwing out creative ideas, I’d also be happy to see the kids who live in this immediate neighborhood get $3 million dollars in scholarships to go to the Bush School over the next 10 years, rather than have that money go to any property development projects. But, this is also not a choice being given to us in this current discussion.

  8. With tuition rates the way they are, $3 million over 10 years could pay for, what… 10 kids?

  9. My feelings on this are as follows. The majority of kids in the CD will never be able to afford the Bush School, so why sell this property to an entity that residents of the CD will never have anything to do with. The property should be sold to the CADA group for this reason; CADA has plans to brings in multiple organizations that will offer programs that will help the kids of the CD do something great with their lives through education so that maybe these kids can make something of themselves and climb out of the poor economic situation they were born into. The kids who attend Bush School have plenty of opportunity to have great lives and I’m sure that the money mommy and daddy spend to send them to that absurdly priced school can be spent by the Bush School on some other property that CADA might not be able to afford. Why give breaks to a rich kid school when neither that school, the kids who attend, or their families would ever think about giving a break to any of the kids who could desperately prosper from the type of programs that CADA would like to set up at the former MLK School property?

  10. I don’t want to sound like a big Bush School supporter, because I am not anything like that. But, I just don’t get the requirement that the Bush School needs to somehow do the same things the MLK school did, or do even more.

    The Bush School is just a business in Madison Valley. They’ve been here since the 1920s–longer than a lot of us. And they don’t seem to be particularly bad neighbors, from what I can tell (I live in Madison Valley). They actually seem like kind-of good neighbors, considering they are a sizable commercial institution. For example, like the Bush School, I wish City Peoples sent me letters letting me know that they were working to reduce their traffic impact on the neighborhood (City Peoples’ trucks drive through Madison Valley everyday, and parks them on neighborhood streets).

    I totally agree with efforts to get the Bush School more connected with the neighborhood, and to get more local kids going there, and get more of the kids who go there doing things in the neighborhood (like the new program where kids there now have a plot and are growing food at the Mad-P P-Patch). All that would make them even better neighbors.

    But, personally, I feel concern about the MLK property being sold, in that whoever runs it needs to have their sh*t together, or else it’s going to become a bad neighbor. It’s bad now as an abandoned school, but it could become a really, really bad neighbor that, e.g., causes more annoying traffic, has unkempt buildings and grounds, is always bombarding everyone with disorganized requests for money and help, is structurally a hazard to its inhabitants, and is poor at communicating about issues with the neighborhood.

    I actually think any of the bidders could be fine, but I just don’t see obvious reasons to assume that the non-Bush School entities are going to be both better than the Bush School and altogether Awesome at running a multimillion dollar property, developing a significant annual budget, managing facilities and staff, having a master plan for traffic and safety, being communicative, etc.

  11. I should know better than to read the comments section but my daughter and I wanted to read everything connected with the MLK/Bush property lease. Both my girls attend Bush and will through the 8th grade. We’ve lived in the CD for 16 years and plan to live here for many more, I guess this leads me to say if you don’t know who your talking about personally, your just mouthing off. It’s as if you think everyone who lives in Arkansas is a redneck, your assuming a lot based on nothing but your jaded, unfounded opinions and general lack of knowledge. I’m sure the school will do what it can to buy the property, frankly they still are in the red with the new lower school building and taking on this additional debt isn’t the soundest decision. That said, how often does any entity get an opportunity to expand their property by 50%, I had that chance in 1997 when the property next to me went up for sale, we didn’t have the $ then and it has haunted us ever since. Instead we got a huge house 8 ft away but the curse turned into a blessing as we eventually got awesome neighbors. If Bush were not to bid on the property and an underfunded program ran the building into the ground, it would have a huge negative effect on the Bush School and its neighbors. To conclude, we’re not rich by any means but we budget every $ we make and sacrifice in many ways so our kids can go to a school which will give then the best chance to succeed. Peace.

  12. Thanks for providing the insider prospective… a bush school parent and a CD resident. I was getting tired of the one-sided debate.

  13. This space should go towards supporting the community as a whole. Giving additional upper tiered “shelter” to wealthy kids via fancy school locations/programs instead of building broad socio-economic educational relationships through a community center isn’t morally justifiable. To create a decent world everyone needs to learn to get along. The city of Seattle should support the community as a whole rather than selling out to the highest bidder.

  14. man. this is a school that i grew up on. i went here from k-5 and all my memories were here i wish they would of kept this open. i learned so much here. rip mlk.

  15. Funny thing is the Bush school has done more for poor minority kids through its scholarship programs than any poster here.

  16. Yes, a ‘community center’, that’s what we need….make it easier for drivebys.

  17. the closed and fenced school yard has really made the neighborhood peaceful, an open 24/7 playground will be again a magnet for the gangs and drug dealers that where their before the locking of the grounds. Whoever gets it, i hope they do not leave it open all night, give us neighbors a break.

  18. needed and it is a sad day to sell public school property to a private school. The district is responsible for providing good programs in all schools. Obviously there are students here not attending the public schools. Bushes scholarships go to students they select and can expel permanently as they have no public responsibility for all students.

    I try to respect individual choices for private school but the private school is not the same community resource as is a great public school.

  19. sadly, MLK was never a great public school, not even good or even close to good. That is why most in the area would not send their kids there and was finally closed largely due to lack of students.

  20. and, grrrr say they have a good chance of being a positive affect on the area. I am not happy about the cult/Jesus element of any church group, but the programs lists seem not to be church related, I hope this stays that way.