City Officially Seeks Buyers for Powder House School Near Teele Square

All sorts of development proposals—research and development, hotel, office, residential, and other ideas—are on the table.

The city has formally issued a request for proposals for the Powder House Community School near Teele Square and could choose a developer by the end of March.

The request for proposals, issued Dec. 26, asks prospective buyers to describe what they would plan to do with the property. The city would consider an array of proposals, including research and development, hotel, office, institutional and residential space. It would also consider plans that contain some retail space, according to the request.

The school was closed in 2004, according to the request for proposals, and has remained virtually unused since then.

Thomas Champion, a spokesperson in the mayor's office, said the entire process, from the day the request for proposals was issued to the official closing of the deal between a developer and the city, could take six to nine months.

What next?

Proposals are due by Feb. 28, and the mayor will make a recommendation to the Somerville Board of Aldermen by March 18, the request for proposals says.

Champion said the mayor is ultimately the one who will choose the developer, but it's the custom in Somerville for the mayor to present his preferred choice to the Board of Aldermen for review. A "Powder House Community School Technical Advisory Committee" will make a recommendation to the mayor. The Board of Aldermen, in turn, must declare the property as surplus and set a minimum sale price before the city can sell the school to a developer.

$7.2 million property must maintain public open space

According to the request for proposals, the entire 80,857-square-foot property at 1060 Broadway, which includes the school building and adjacent land, is valued by the city assessor's office at $7.2 million. Of that, the building is worth about $5.4 million and the land is worth a little under $1.9 million.

However, it's likely any developer would choose to knock down the building, which was built in 1973, because structural reports give it poor grades, according to George Proakis, the city's director of planning, who spoke about the property at a public meeting in October of 2012.

The request for proposals puts some conditions on prospective development at the site. Foremost, 40 percent of site—0.75 acres—must be public open space. Also, the pedestrian walkways from Broadway to Holland Street, which connect residents to Davis Square, must be be retained.

"The City may select a proposal that does not offer the highest bid price but is more in keeping with the goals of the city and its residents while still offering a fair rate of return," Champion said in an email.


City to 'Test the Waters' With Powder House School This Fall

Joseph January 03, 2013 at 07:01 PM
This is probably one of the most disgraceful things that the mayor and board of aldermen have ever done. There were some very specific promises made to residents when the school committee agreed to close the school. They have all been broken by the mayor and noone has the guts to stand up to him. And beyond the promises, selling off valuable city-owned land, for what? Just watch as the 'conditions' about open space which were mentioned in the article disappear. The storyline will be that the developer just can't make any money if _______ condition isn't changed. The city is being sold down the river and it's very sad to see.


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