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Developers pitch ideas for Powder House School redevelopment

Posted by Jarret Bencks  May 10, 2013 04:34 PM

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A rendering from Peter Lee and Michael McKee's proposal to redevelop the Powder House Community School.

Proposals from six developers who want to transform the old Powder House Community School on Broadway will be reviewed by a committee in Somerville.

Most of the proposals call for residential redevelopment and public park space, and one envisions the school be retrofitted to host civic events, featuring classrooms, an art gallery, and outdoor amphitheater.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone has appointed a 16-member committee to review the proposals and make recommendations.

The city received proposals from private developers Diamond Sinacori Real Estate, Gate Residential/KSS Realty Partners, Mammoth Acquisition Co., and Peter Lee and Michael McKee, along with proposals from Tufts University and nonprofit Somerville Community Corporation.

Mammoth Acquisition has offered the highest bid at $7 million. The company proposes a mixed-use development with about 35 residential units and 18,000 square feet of retail space, along with public park space. The proposal indicates that a national pharmacy chain has interest in the retail space.

Diamond Sinacori Real Estate proposes 35 town house-style units with 58 parking spots and 40 percent of the lot set aside as public park space. Diamond Sinacori is offering $1.02 million for the lot.

Gate Residential/KSS Realty Partners offered two proposals, one featuring about 30 units of housing and another with about 40 units. The proposals feature a park with a "dog wilderness run." They offered $2.75 million for the 30-unit proposal and $3.5 million for the 40-unit proposal.

The proposal from Peter Lee and Michael McKee calls for the school building to remain intact and be renovated. Part of the building would be converted into classrooms, multipurpose space, and an art gallery, while the rest would be turned into 110 loft-style apartments. The plans also include a small amphitheater, a cafe, and park space. The proposal offers $4.2 million for the parcel.

Tufts University, which owns an abutting building that used to be Western Junior High School, submitted two plans, one that features residential development and office space, and another with only office space. Tufts purchased the old school in 1987 and uses the building for administrative offices. The plans call for an addition onto the administrative building, and the construction of a separate building, either to serve as a 35-unit apartment complex, or as office space. The university has offered $2.65 million.

The Somerville Community Corporation also offers two plans. One includes 35 units of affordable housing and 20,000 square feet of commercial space, and another has 50 units of housing without commercial space. It has offered $1.79 million for the school.

The proposals from each developer can be viewed in detail here.

On Tuesday, Curtatone announced the formation of the Powder House Community School Advisory Group. The group is made up of Aldermen Bob Trane, Jack Connolly, and Dennis Sullivan; School Committee chairwoman Mary Jo Rossetti; PJ Ryan’s Pub owner Connor Brenan; city residents Sean Becker, Frances Fisher, Brian Harris, Jim Monagle, Mike Panis, Alex Pitkin, and Richard Shortt; members of the city's office of community development George Proakis, Stephen Houdlette, and Luisa Oliveira; and Angela Allen, the city's purchasing director. Allen is a non-voting member.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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