The historic Longfellow School at 3715 Oakes Ave. was built in 1911.

Possible sale of Longfellow building moves forward

EVERETT — A plan to sell the historic Longfellow school building to the Everett Museum of History has cleared a major hurdle.

When Everett Public Schools put the building up for sale in 2014, it required parties submitting letters of interest to meet a list of conditions, said Mike Gunn, the district’s executive director of facilities and operations.

One of those criteria was having the money already lined up.

The museum has been without a permanent home since 2007. In March, the museum received a $3 million donation to buy Longfellow.

The museum has offered $2 million for the building and would use the remainder to begin the process of renovation.

“This organization has passed the big hurdle that no one else has done,” Gunn said.

The district received two other letters of interest, neither of which was deemed feasible.

The Longfellow building at 3715 Oakes Ave. was built in 1911 and used as an elementary school until 1971. Famous alumni include Sen. Henry M. Jackson and comedian Stan Boreson.

It later was used to house some of the district’s administrative offices. It was mostly vacated in 2013 when the district moved into the new Community Resource Center, and now is used primarily for police training.

The district has estimated it could cost up to $8.5 million to bring the building up to code for use as an office building.

Barring finding a buyer, the district plans to demolish the building, which still would cost about $1 million. It wants to put a parking lot in its place.

That plan has drawn opposition from historic preservation groups. In March, Chris Moore, the executive director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, wrote to the district stating that he thought Everett Public Schools was prematurely moving forward with demolition and instead should conduct a full environmental study of the project.

“Ill-conceived urban renewal policies from half a century ago clearly demonstrate the harm that comes from demolition of historic buildings for the purpose of creating surface parking lots,” Moore wrote.

Other groups and people in Everett have strongly favored saving the building, including the Everett Historical Commission, Historic Everett and the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

“We’re going to save them the million dollars that it will cost to demo the building,” said Barbara George, executive director of the Everett Museum of History. “We’ll do the asbestos abatement and seismic stuff and get the building in a mode where we can start the renovation.”

The museum’s mystery benefactor wishes to remain anonymous, George said.

The district’s real estate consultant and attorneys are drawing up a draft purchase and sale agreement, Gunn said. Securing approval by the Everett School Board would be necessary for any sale.

The district still is proceeding with its plan to demolish the building, and also is planning to ask the board to approve a call for bids for the work at its May 9 meeting, Gunn said.

“We may at some point put that demolition process on hold to allow those negotiations to come to fruition,” he said.

George said she’s optimistic an agreement to save the Longfellow can be reached.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal, but it’s a big step in the move forward,” she said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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