ARLINGTON – The Arlington School Board approved hiring a consultant to market one of the district’s more iconic bastions of learning that is years past the days when the hallways echoed with classmate chatter.
The decision came Monday when the board agreed to hire real estate consultant Long Bay Enterprises in Edmonds for $12,000 to help the district sell or arrange a long-term lease for the old Arlington High School A Building at 135 S. French Ave.
“The general consensus is that building can still hold value for the community and an effort to find a use for it that aligns with community values and needs is a worthy cause,” said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations.
“We hope to find a buyer or tenant who would ‘preserve the character of the building’ and meet the district’s purpose of education and serving the community,” he said.
District staff and community members this last school year studied future plans for the old high school building. They recommended the district pursue a Request for Letters of Interest process to drum up proposals from interested parties who “may be interested in leasing or purchasing the A Building from the district, preserve the character of the building and result in a use in alignment with the district’s purpose as an educational institution and member of the community,” according to a staff summary.
District staff would work with the real estate consultant to conduct the process. Community members who served on the A Building Task Force have already volunteered to be part of the process.
The district currently uses the bottom floor of the building to house its Support Services and Nutrition department. In the past, tenants included a private school and the Arlington Boys & Girls Club before it opened at its building near the airport.
Generally, the building needs some TLC, between leaking roofs and skylights, sub-standard mechanical and electrical systems, and seismic upgrades for the 1936 landmark concrete building to withstand a major earthquake and bring it up to building codes.
The nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in 2018 listed the A Building among its most endangered places. The trust on its website wrote, “With its grand front entrances, streamlined architectural details, balconied auditorium and original iron and glass skylights, it is a beautifully intact example of Art Deco architecture.”
The building also features murals by Washington artist Richard Correll, including “Bunyan at Stillaguamish,” which pays homage to the town’s logging history.
The historic preservation trust stated that the school’s proximity to downtown and public transit make it a good asset for adaptive community uses.
“Still in its historic configuration, the former school could easily accommodate Arlington’s nonprofit and art communities with studio and makers spaces, meeting and office spaces, educational and training spaces, and even a large performance venue,” trust representatives suggested.