The Seattle Times: Seattle and school district will partner to build high school, stadium at Seattle Center

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New High School

This piece was published in The Seattle Times on Aug. 4, 2017.

The city of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools hope to respond to the growing number of families living downtown.

The city of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools will collaborate to build a new stadium and a high school at Seattle Center.

The city and school district will team up on the design of both the stadium and the high school, including possibly locating the high school at “nearby alternative sites,” according to a news release.

The city and the school district agreed to tear down the current Memorial Stadium, which is 70 years old, in 2009. The school district owns the stadium and the adjacent parking lot.

“A new stadium and a new high school are both critical needs for Seattle Public Schools,” Dr. Larry Nyland, district superintendent, said in the release.

The downtown area hasn’t had a large public school in decades. There isn’t a start date for the project yet, a spokeswoman for Seattle schools said in an email. SPS did not respond by press time to questions about how much the project would cost.

This isn’t the first time the city has looked at building a school downtown. Mayor Mike McGinn tried to make space for an elementary school in 2012. His idea was to offer developers a chance to build offices and apartment buildings, at heights above what was usually permitted, if they let the city use the first few floors for a school.

In 2014, downtown groups pushed Seattle schools to bid for the former Federal Reserve building in downtown, but its eventual bid didn’t even come close in the auction.

The Downtown Seattle Association has been pushing for a public school in downtown for years, said James Sido, the association’s senior manager of media relations.

Pointing to a rise in population, Sido said getting a school for downtown families has been a priority.

“The school takes top billing for us,” Sido said. The association’s data says that close to 2,000 kids now live in the downtown area, a steep rise from 2010.

Meanwhile, Seattle Center’s future has been uncertain for years after the city abandoned its $567 million master plan in 2010.

“As we reimagine Seattle Center and the district identifies ways to build more capacity in our rapidly growing city, we will closely collaborate to ensure our plans best serve SPS and Seattle Center,” Mayor Ed Murray said.

There is already a high school in Seattle Center — The Center School, a small arts and preparatory school located at the Center House multipurpose building.