Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 7:00 AM Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 9:15 AM
A developer in April agreed to buy the old Washington High School building in Southeast Portland, and now the Parks & Recreation Bureau is proceeding with a long-simmering plan to build a community center next door.
The Parks bureau has submitted a proposal to the Portland Bureau of Development Services to build a two-story facility with an indoor pool, classrooms, a gym and open space. The 60,710-square-foot building, at Southeast 12th Avenue and Stark Street, west of the former high school, would be completed in two phases and include an underground parking garage with space for 168 cars.
For now, there’s no funding for the project and no timeline.
But a hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July 23. If the plan is approved, the Parks bureau would have 10 years to complete the project.
Two months ago, Portland Public Schools agreed to sell the school building, at 14th Avenue and Stark Street, to developer Art DeMuro’s Venerable Group Inc. for $2 million.
DeMuro is considering a renovation that may include housing. He said this week that his purchase of the building was not contingent on the development of the community center.
But DeMuro added that the completion of both projects would be a victory for the Buckman neighborhood, which has been working on the development of the high school property for years.
“I would be very happy for the neighborhood to realize both goals,” he said. “It’s such a key parcel and both projects are of such a magnitude in a neighborhood that is already on the upswing.”
In 2004, the school district sold 4.5 acres of the seven-acre site to the city for $5.4 million, specifically for a community center.
In previous designs, the center would have included at least part of the school building. But because the school district sold the building to Venerable, the Parks bureau now wants to build the center just west of the school.
The most recent cost estimate for the community center was in August. If the center is built in one phase, the cost was estimated at about $47 million, according to Susan Meamber,a parks bureau project manager.
But the design has changed, she said, and a new estimate will be done after the plan has been approved.