Seattle School District Eyes Old Downtown Building | KUOW News and Information

Seattle School District Eyes Old Downtown Building

Aug 11, 2014

The Federal Reserve Building in downtown Seattle, at 2nd and Spring, could be the location of an elementary school.
Credit Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND)

There’s more discussion this week about a potential new school in downtown Seattle. As KUOW’s Ann Dornfeld reports, the idea is controversial.


Steve Gillespie and his wife have a condo near the waterfront.

They love how much there is to eat and see and do downtown – and the ability to walk everywhere.

Steve: “And when we had our daughter we realized that we really don’t want to stop with that. We’re 10 minutes from the science center, we’re 10 minutes from the aquarium, it’s easy to get to Benaroya and the Seattle Art Museum and all these great opportunities for kids.”

What’s harder to get to, Gillespie says, is a public elementary school.

His daughter is assigned to Lowell, more than two miles away on Capitol Hill.

Gillespie says it’s hard to walk to, and it’s just not their neighborhood.

He’s excited by the district’s application to take over the vacant Federal Reserve building downtown.

The district says that last fall, more than 400 elementary-aged students lived within a mile and a half of that building.

The land and the building would be free - a great price in a high-rent neighborhood.

Still, the district estimates it would cost upwards of 50 million dollars to renovate the building.

Critics say many students are assigned to schools outside their neighborhoods.

And they say the district should first address the huge maintenance backlog at its existing schools.

Gillespie acknowledges that fact.

But he says many families leave downtown because of the lack of a neighborhood school.

“I think that a downtown school is the logical next step in Seattle’s densification. If we really want to encourage people to live low-carbon, walkable, urban lives in this metropolitan, cosmopolitan city, we’ve got to have a school.”

The district has set aside five million dollars to research possibilities for a downtown school.

It’s holding a public meeting on the subject Tuesday night at six at the Belltown Community Center.

I’m Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.