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Originally published Friday, March 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Old Queen Anne gym to fetch $7.5 million

Seattle Public Schools has struck a deal to sell the Queen Anne gym to the same developer that converted the old Queen Anne High School...

Seattle Times education reporter

Phinney Neighborhood Center proposed sale

The district will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. April 17 on the proposed sale of the former Allen Elementary building to the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

Seattle Public Schools has struck a deal to sell the Queen Anne gym to the same developer that converted the old Queen Anne High School into condominiums, but this time it appears the district got a better deal.

Lorig Associates will buy the 1.1-acre site for $7.5 million, assuming the School Board approves the details this spring. Lorig Chief Operating Officer Tom Fitzsimmons said the developer is planning about 30 Victorian-style town homes on the property.

"They'll be designed in such a way to really complement the neighborhood," he said. "They'll fit, we believe, very well in terms of design and quality with the surrounding neighborhood."

In 2005, Lorig converted the old Queen Anne High School into luxury condominiums and sold them, nearly 20 years after it had turned the closed school building into apartments.

Under a 1986 contract between the district and Lorig, the district was to end up with only 12 percent of the proceeds when Lorig sold — about $6.5 million. At the time of the sale, the land alone was worth $1 million more than the district received, according to the King County Assessor's Office. According to the lease agreement, once the building was converted to condos, the district was to give up its ownership of the building and land and sign over individual deeds to the new condo owners.

The Assessor's Office values the Queen Anne gym and property at $4.8 million. District property manager Ron English said he believes the district got a good deal.

The School Board decided about a decade ago it didn't need the Queen Anne gym, which has a double basketball court, with bleachers, that was used by the old high school. The site, adjacent to the Queen Anne High School building, is too small for a future school. Hay Elementary, across the street, has a gym, so the district rents the gym to community basketball leagues for about $50,000 a year.

Under the pending agreement, Lorig won't pay the district until October 2009 but will secure the deal with a $750,000 promissory note.

Historically, it's unusual for the school district to sell property, but this sale is the fourth in the past four years as the district tries to liquidate some of its long-unused property. It also sold its North Annex and the Maple Leaf and Briarcliff school buildings.

The district is also in the process of selling five other properties: four former schools being used as community centers, and a Ballard park it wants to sell to the city.

Under state law, proceeds from sold property can't be used for ongoing maintenance or any of the district's academic programs or day-to-day expenses.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 eheffter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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