November 1, 2013

Portland School District wants to buy Goodwill building

The building on Cumberland Avenue is for sale for $2.7 million, would be used to consolidate programs and offices.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Portland School District is seeking approval to buy the Goodwill building downtown as part of a $3.6 million project to consolidate several offices and programs.

click image to enlarge

The Goodwill building at 353 Cumberland Ave. in Portland is seen as an ideal site for school district use.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

“During the past six months, our staff looked at more than a dozen properties to purchase or lease. Nearly all of them cost significantly more money, and none was as well suited for our purposes,” said Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to purchase this building before it goes on the market at a higher price. Delaying the purchase of space for these three programs will only add to the cost.”

The school board will consider the issue Tuesday. The purchase would be subject to approval by the City Council. The district would pay for the building, now for sale for $2.7 million, with reserve and Capital Improvement Plan funds.

The three-story building at 353 Cumberland Ave., which has 50,000 square feet, would house the district’s central office, the Multilingual and Multicultural Center and the West Program, which serves students with special needs.

The building now houses the Midtown Community Policing Center, which will remain there if the district buys the building.

The move would free up space at Portland Arts and Technology High School, which now houses the central office staff and Casco Bay High School, which is looking to expand.

The West Program is now in leased space in a former school in Falmouth, and the multilingual program is at Lyman Moore Middle School.

District officials said they have toured the property, which comes with 50 parking spaces, and it is in “excellent condition, with renovations primarily needed to convert part of the building into educational use.”

“This is obviously a priority and an opportunity to address some of the needs that both the board and the council have been concerned with for the past several years,” said school board member Justin Costa, referring to the need to expand Casco Bay High School and address facility needs for the West Program.

The district moved the West Program out of the former West School in June because of that building’s failing condition.

Caulk said the Goodwill building’s location near the Portland Public Library, Portland High School, the Boys and Girls Club and City Hall is also an advantage.

The building would house about 100 employees and 40 West Program students. The district would continue to house the Adult Education program at the former Cathedral Grammar School through the 2015-16 school year, officials said.

The district hopes to close on the purchase by February and move in before the 2014-15 school year.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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