The main three-story building at 245 North Evarts St. will come down, perhaps as soon as this fall, thanks to $2,232,942 approved by the School Facilities Department during the 2013 Legislative session. The building houses the old school’s cafeteria, kitchen and a majority of the classrooms.
The one-story buildings on the property’s east side — bordering North Ferris Street — will be spared, as will some instruction space. The buildings house a warehouse, print shop and the district’s information technology room.
“They’re going to keep what used to be the old shop spaces,” said district coordinator of support services Todd Wilder. “We’re also going to keep two classrooms that are going to be used for the district’s in-school suspensions program and some special education services for higher-needs students.”
The district is hoping to find an architectural firm within one month, then approve demolition and renovation plans within a couple months after that. The district then will advertise the work and accept bids.
Wilder said the district is in no rush to rid itself of the building, because the demolition has to wait until a rehauling of the building’s infrastructure is complete.
Heat, water and sewer services that are currently located in the main building must be moved to the buildings that will remain.
Any renovation work that requires the power to be shut off in the IT room would have to be done on weekends, evenings or after early release days. Powell schools would lose phone and Internet connectivity if the IT room lost power for more than 30 minutes.
The renovations would make the remaining facilities on the old high school property a new place for learning.
In addition to special education there are plans to move the early childhood education program, currently held at the Home Ec Cottage on Clark Street, to the old high school property.
The district plans to attempt to sell the Home Ec Cottage once the transition is complete.
The land where the main high school building currently sits will be converted to green space, Wilder said.
Wilder said there are no plans to develop any of the land into parking lots.
“It should have plenty of (existing) parking around the building to satisfy the needs of the occupants that will be in there,” Wilder said.
Wilder would like to preserve the existing trees around the building, but said it may not be feasible given their advanced age and proximity to the building. The trees were planted when the building was constructed, making them approximately 60 years old, he said.
A study will be conducted to gauge approximately how much longer the trees can be expected to live.
“I really want to see if I can save them,” Wilder said. “If they’re near their life expectancy and it’s going to be expensive to try to do a demolition to work around them, then we’re going to take them out and we’ll replant something else.”