Future of Adams School To Be Decided 8/20/08

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 By Carol McCracken

The news that only one developer submitted a proposal to redevelop the former Adams School only served as a grim reminder to ‘A Company of Girls’ officials that by the end of September ’08, the award winning non-profit will have to find a new home from which to run its innovative program. The deadine for the filing of proposals was Tuesday, July 22.

Avesta Housing was the only developer to submit a proposal to the city. The proposal includes 40 housing units and a park – to be called Beckett Green and Marada Adams Park. Half of the 40 units will be three bedroom units and the rest 1 bedroom units. There would be owner occupied income restrictions ranging from $38,000 to $81,000 per year. The Marada Adams Park would provide “public recreation, open space programming and public art needs” according to the proposal submitted by Dana Totman, president. The park would be owned and managed by the city of Portland.

Glaringly absent from the Avesta proposal is the lack of space for non-profits. The lack thereof or the inclusion thereof has been the source of much contention on the Hill – specifically between those who want non-profit space to be available at the former school and others who believe that the Hill already has enough community space. Others argue that affordable housing should be the top priority for the redevelopment of the former Adams School. Still others support a little of both – non-profit space and some affordable housing as well.

Jane Makela, president of the board of ACOG said that a renewed effort is underway by the board to ask the city council to revisit the issue of permitting the group for low-income girls at risk to remain on the property until perhaps next year sometime. (The expected date of the start of the razing of the building is the fall of 2009 with a completion date of 2011.) Makela, who is an attorney, wants to make this a “win-win” situation for both the City and ACOG. “We are good stewards of the property and good neighbors here. The City has been a wonderful landlord for us,” she added. Makela accepts that ACOG needs to vacate the premises – she just wishes it were later rather than sooner.

The future of the former Adams School will take another step forward on August 20th when the matter comes before the Community Development Committee at 5:00 p.m. at the City Hall. One possibility that will be decided at the meeting is whether to reissue RFPs in order to receive more proposals from developers in the area.