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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 19, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Former Federal Reserve building may yet end up as a public school

A few weeks ago, the Seattle School Board declined the chance to get the former Federal Reserve branch in downtown Seattle for free in exchange for turning it into an elementary school.

Board members were uncomfortable with some of the terms — especially the fact that accepting it from the feds would have come with a mandate to turn the hulking structure into an elementary school within three years or face fines. District staff estimated that project would cost between $50 million and $53 million, and board members didn’t want to commit the district to that price before they asked voters to support it.

But a meeting this week made it clear they haven’t given up on turning the building into an elementary school.

On Thursday, the board’s operations committee agreed that the full board should consider bidding on the building under a federal auction that started Dec. 5, the next step after the federal government first offered the building to federal agencies, groups serving the homeless and state or local governments.  The board will discuss whether to bid in the auction at its Jan. 7 meeting, with a vote scheduled for Jan. 21, district spokeswoman Stacy Howard said.

If the district succeeds in getting the building, it likely will pay up front for the building and land, but would not be held to the same timeline to renovate and open the school, which likely would be the biggest cost.

Bidding began Dec. 5 at a starting cost of $5 million and will conclude Jan. 28, according to the federal agency’s website.

Comments | Topics: Downtown school, Federal Reserve, Seattle Public Schools

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