January 20, 2010

Bittersweet birthday

One of Redmond's most iconic buildings celebrated its 88th birthday last week, with tours and displays of historical information.

The celebration was bittersweet because when the school year concludes, Evergreen Elementary will close and students and staff will be dispersed to other schools, including the under-construction elementary school on Southwest Wickiup Avenue, which will open in September.

The school district has the property listed for sale at $3.5 million. Compass Commercial, the district’s agent, has had several developers inquire about the building, but none have made offers, said Doug Snyder, district facilities manager.

The school district intends to close down the building this summer if no one has purchased the building. A long-term rental could be an option, Snyder said, but that would essentially take it off the market.

To help make the property more attractive to buyers, the city’s urban renewal agency is considering adding the site to the Downtown Urban Renewal District, which would make urban renewal funds available for a public-private development projects at the school.

“As part of our analysis and due diligence about whether or not to extend the downtown urban renewal district and expand the boundaries to include Evergreen Elementary school, the Urban Renewal Agency will contract with a consultant to analyze the feasibility of adaptively reusing the facility for private and/or public uses. This analysis should include a financial analysis based on code issues and financial incentives available for redevelopment of historic/cultural resources,” said Heather Richards, Redmond Community Development Department Director.

The request for proposals to consulting firms was due out this week , with responses and proposals due back in two weeks, and a final report by April.

Richards also mentioned the possibility of trying to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places. Such a designation would give a 20 percent tax credit to a developer who wished to restore the building.

Snyder said the district has not pursued the historic designation and would leave that to a potential buyer. Placing a building on the national register has pros and cons, he said. While being on the register can provide some funds for renovation, the funding comes with stringent requirements that would impact the cost of repairs and limit what a developer could do with the buildings, he added.

- story by Trish Pinkerton

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