SOMERVILLE –The City of Somerville is seeking new proposals for the Powder House Community School site that meet previous objectives developed over two years by the neighborhood, with an extensive in-person and online community engagement process as one of the requirements for those seeking to design and ultimately redevelop the former K-8 school on Broadway between Teele Square and Davis Square.
A new Request for Proposals (RFP 15-63) has been released by the City and is available on the City Purchasing Department’s page. Proposals are due to the Purchasing Department, City Hall, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143 no later than 11 a.m. on Monday, March 23, 2015. A pre-proposal site visit for those interested in responding to the RFP is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. starting at the building entrance, 1060 Broadway, followed by a question and answer session at 2:30 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall.
An initial RFP released by the City in 2013 sought proposals for the site that would meet a set of community objectives that were developed through a two-year community planning process. Those objectives include, as required by a vote of the Board of Aldermen, that at least 40 percent of the site is used as publicly accessible open space; that the pedestrian route from Broadway to Holland Street must be preserved, enhanced, and maintained; the long-term economic impact of the proposal; and the price offered for the property. The selected developer may propose to purchase or lease the site, and to either demolish, reconstruct or rehabilitate the existing school building.
The initial RFP also evaluated respondents based on the development team’s experience in leading a community design process. The new RFP requires that the selected development partner work with City staff to schedule a series of public neighborhood meetings to solicit and respond to community input, and will also be required to provide an interactive, online platform that makes all information about the project available and allows for online community engagement to complement the in-person meetings. Building upon the past multi-year community visioning focus group process that established a future vision for the site’s development, this future community engagement process will inform both the project and any proposed rezoning of the nearly 81,000 square foot site.
“This new RFP is the next step in finding a development partner that will work hand-in-hand with the community, as we’ve successfully done on projects across the city, and help us achieve the community’s vision for this site,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Community feedback has been the linchpin of our discussions around the future of the Powder House Community School since the beginning of this process, and will continue to serve as the foundation as evaluate how to best meet the needs of our community.”
Tufts University was initially ranked as the top recommendation by the Powder House Community School Technical Advisory Committee and ultimately selected by the Mayor after the initial RFP, but after the university clarified that it did not foresee developing the site for at least 15 years, the City ended negotiations with Tufts in March 2014.
Citing new information and concerns regarding the condition of the property and a broader range of community-supported uses for the redevelopment of the Powder House Community School site, the City then rejected the five remaining proposals, canceled the initial existing RFP, and notified developers of the intent to re-evaluate the scope of the project and issue the new RFP that is now available.