The community groups that have been operating out of the Seattle school district’s Horace Mann building in the Central Area rent-free since the summer are still there and it’s costing the district an estimated $1,000 a day in delayed construction work.
The district has a lease agreement with the groups, now known as the Africatown Center for Education and Innovation, to rent space in another district building a few miles away, the Columbia Annex, but the lease still must be approved by the school board at its Nov. 6 meeting.
The district had to repair some fixtures at the new location and settle other lease details such as insurance requirements with the organization, which has delayed getting the lease before the school board for approval, said Lesley Rogers, the district’s chief communications officer.
The district has asked Africatown Center to leave Horace Mann as soon as possible. The organization was expected to meet Wednesday evening to discuss whether that was feasible, said Pegi McEvoy, assistant superintendent for operations.
She said the group has told the district that it doesn’t have anywhere to store equipment and would prefer to remain at Horace Mann until the school board approves the lease on the new location.
Meanwhile, the clock is running on the Horace Mann renovations. The district still believes the work can be completed on time, but the delay could cost extra.
On Sept. 18, the school board approved an $8 million contract with Construction Service Inc. to renovate the Horace Mann building so that Nova Alternative High School can move in next fall.
The district estimates that the delay could cost $1,000 a day, starting from when the board approved the contract, Rogers said. The final amount would have to be negotiated with Construction Service, Rogers said.
‘Whether Africatown Center can stay put until the lease is finalized is the subject of continued negotiations, school officials said.
The district has agreed to lease two rooms at the Columbia Annex for a total of $187.50 a month, plus utilities. Africatown Center also will pay a standard security deposit and provide proof of insurance, McEvoy said.
She anticipates that the organization will meet the criteria for the standard discount offered in all leases for activities that support the district’s educational mission.
The Columbia Annex is a three-room building that was part of Ranier Vista School until the school closed in 1971. Then it was used for Head Start classes until 2000.