Community Post

Sale of MLK school to First AME looking very likely – final decision on October 20th

The Seattle School District has taken another step towards selling the abandoned Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary property in Madison Valley to First AME church. As we reported last month, the board’s finance committee was in agreement with the district administration’s recommendation that the building and property be sold to the church, spurning competing offers from the Madison Valley community, CADA, and the Bush School.

First AME won out after the district’s analysis showed that their planned programs and low rental rates for space would provide the largest total value to the community.

That recommendation was presented to the full school board for the first time last week, and the district has posted a draft purchase agreement that would hand over the property to First AME for $2.4 million. The majority of those funds will come from the State of Washington, which has allocated a pool of money for community service organizations to acquire vacant school facilities.

According to a memo given to the board, the proposed sale matches with board policy that gives preference to community groups for school acquisitions, even if they aren’t the highest bidder for a property. That was applicable in this case since the Bush School’s bid had a total value of $5.6 million, significantly higher than First AME’s proposal.

The final step in the process is coming next week on October 20th, when the sale will come up for a vote among the entire board. But at this stage, that would appear to be a formality given the unanimous support of the finance subcommittee and the district administration for the First AME sale.

First AME plans to use the building for expanded youth activities, education, parent training, veterans services, and licensed daycare programs. Other space in the building will be available for lease by other community organizations.


0 thoughts on “Sale of MLK school to First AME looking very likely – final decision on October 20th

  1. Just because of the proximity I think the Bush School should have first dibs on the property. That said, I always thought the irony of one of the poorest schools in the Seattle school system smack up next door to one of the toniest private schools in the area was priceless. And it sounds like First AME will have good use for the property as well.

  2. FAME changed their bid to say what they needed to get the state money. Now the public will lose the building and the church get a free building and new fundraising tool. They will probably have to sell it unless they can get more money to fund running the place, it is an old rundown building and very expensive to heat.

    Too bad the board totally ignored the neighborhood in this process and gave it to an outside group. The pastor was on channel 5 beaming that now he could expand their(church’s) mission.

  3. Amazing, community centers are cutting hours and loosing funding, and this church is getting 2.5 million of state money to buy a property. Hey Pettigrew, how many “children might die” as a result of you taking away their money for this?

  4. A church! Very sad state of affairs with the state supporting religious programs. I am shocked.

  5. So do you think that Bryant Manor on 18th and Yesler, the long standing affordable housing with 50+ units, is a religious program? Are you angry that this church obtained federal funds to build that housing? Is it really that shocking that a Christian organization can separate religion from community service programs? The YMCA and CCS are both examples of Christian organizations that provide community programs and services.

    As stated in the final sentence of this article…
    First AME plans to use the building for expanded youth activities, education, parent training, veterans services, and licensed daycare programs. Other space in the building will be available for lease by other community organizations.First AME also has stated the community will be able to use the gym for free.

    I am glad they are getting the building and I really doubt that any children will die because Pettigrew took “their” money. Back to life, back to reality….

  6. I agree that this is not goodness for Madison Valley. How can we attend this meeting to further voice our concerns? In this economy the fact that this building isn’t being sold to the highest bidder astounds me. The building will need major renovations or even be torn down and I am concerned that long term the AME church won’t be able to sustain it not to mention I am not sure it benefits the residents of Madison Valley – we need a playground,we need streets repaired, we need to funnel business to madison streetand/or madrona to support the merchants – we do not need this.

    Disappointed in Madison Valley.

  7. Great to see the MLK school put to use to better benefit a much larger public use. Especially when so much of this area has falling to less needed private endeavors. Nice to see the SSD sale to FAME. I look forward to supporting FAME’s mission.

  8. They still have to apply to the dept. of commerce for the funds. If enough citizens complain to DOC and law makers maybe they won’t get it.
    Their is a big problem with the State buying a building for a Church group (I have nothing against FAME, but it is a church mission) they should raise the funds privately and not use public funds. I don’t believe the State bought the ymca, csa or other religious groups any property. They may have contracted some programs to them, but not give them money to buy a building.

  9. 1. Does the School Board’s acceptance of FAME’s financially lesser offer violate a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers who ultimately support the school district (and from whom the School Board is requesting another $48 million on the Nov. ballot?).
    2. Does State funding of the FAME purchase of this site violate any principled or statutory separation of church and state, especially in light of the preceding?
    3. The MLK building dates to the 1950’s and is in major disrepair. Millions of dollars of renovation will be required to bring it to applicable codes, with these costs documented in School Board online postings. If FAME requires taxpayer support to buy this site, then does it have the means to finance even more costly repairs before assuming safe occupancy? I called FAME with this question and was advised that no answer was available directly from FAME and that this concern should be addressed to the School Board (where I can find no answer to it either!).
    4. If FAME proves underfunded or otherwise unable to proceed with the intended use and maintenance of MLK, then what are the consequences: do we taxpayers get our money back? Does FAME keep the property anyway? Will the State grant more money to FAME (even as established community centers struggle for funding)?
    5. The MLK property is in a densely residential neighborhood where Bush has been a neighbor since the 1920’s. This property is adjacent to the Bush campus and no similar property will ever be available to Bush. Bush clearly has the resources to develop the property and their intended use will benefit the neighborhood with a playing field (where none currently exists) to which Bush will allow neighbors substantial access. FAME can set up a community center almost anywhere. The School Board has not seemed to weigh these situational realities in its decision.

    I’m not a Bush parent. I am a nearby resident. I’m also empathetic to CCC@MLK – members of that group are also neighbors and they have been forthcoming for their plans for the site. However, they are also substantially underbidding Bush and it is unclear how they would fund rehabilitation and of the building. This whole process was terribly flawed, and a net loss to taxpayers of nearly 7 million dollars. Bear that in mind as the School District asks for another $48 million in this election.

  10. this whole deal stinks.
    where can local citizens display distaste for this poor decision?
    who knows where to put pressure to make sure this gets reversed?
    thanks for your help on this, will be watching for replies.

  11. First no building that has housed students that recently is in the huge disrepair outlined here. Requirements for current codes after it has been unoccupied for a certain number of years seem to change and often include such things as the number of outlets required. The District allowed many other facilities to go unoccupied for much longer and to deteriorate much more than this one. The roof, for instance is good, it is seismically sound, the foundation and structure is good. And, the building is actually quite attractive inside. Many wonderful old buildings that have been in continual use probably have a higher rating of basic building condition and quality than do many newer ones despite not being in line exactly with all current codes for connectivity etc.

  12. I don’t know if any type of lawsuit could be filed. There is probably nothing really about the FAME buying the property.

    However, state funding for FAME could be questionable. The State agencies are probably the best bet, including those that look at the legal issues here. The 37th District Representatives and Senator all took credit for lobbying successfully for the funding. Contacting them or arranging a conversation on their thinking might be helpful.

    As all probably detected from my earlier postings, I am an advocate for the School District not selling property. I can imagine that a few parcels that had not been used for eons and no building resembling a school existed or had ever existed were fine to be sold. Even now they are reopening schools in buildings that had not been schools for 20+ years. When public property is sold there is always a feeling that there is a backdoor deal for special friends and that it is not necessarily in the best interest of the public. Our elected officials are responsible for the public interest as a whole. Selling this property is shameful.