Portland school officials want to buy, renovate former Goodwill Industries building

This 353 Cumberland Ave. building in Portland is owned by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. Portland Public Schools officials hope to allocate $3.6 million to buy and renovate it.
This 353 Cumberland Ave. building in Portland is owned by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. Portland Public Schools officials hope to allocate $3.6 million to buy and renovate it. Buy Photo
Posted Oct. 31, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland school officials are hoping to allocate $3.6 million to buy and renovate a former Goodwill Industries building in the city’s downtown.

According to an announcement Thursday, the Board of Public Education will consider the project at its meeting Tuesday night. In the proposed move, Portland Public Schools would relocate its central office, West Program for students with emotional disabilities and mental health diagnoses, and the Multilingual and Multicultural Center.

“This building is ideally located, near Portland High School, the Portland Public Library, Deering Oaks, the Portland Boys and Girls Club and Portland City Hall,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk in a statement Thursday.

“West students will benefit from nearby educational and community resources, and they will use the gymnasium at the former Cathedral Grammar School that we already are renting,” he continued. “The central office and Multilingual Center staff will benefit from easy access to our colleagues at City Hall and opportunities for more collaboration with service agencies.”

The central office is now located in the Portland Arts and Technology High School on Allen Avenue, while the Multilingual and Multicultural Center is housed at Lyman Moore Middle School.

The West Program is located in the former Sampson D. Plummer School in Falmouth on a temporary lease. It had previously been housed in — and got its name from — the 50-year-old West School on Douglass Circle, a facility that closed in the spring after years of falling into disrepair.

The three-story building owned by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England is located at 353 Cumberland Ave., and occupies 50,000 square feet, according to the department announcement. The property has 50 parking spaces and the district is prepared to rent another 55 spaces nearby, according to the Thursday announcement.

The Midtown Community Policing Center currently occupying part of the building would be welcome to stay.

“During the past six months, our staff looked at more than a dozen properties to purchase or lease. Nearly all of them cost significantly more money, and none was as well suited for our purposes,” said Caulk in a statement. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to purchase this building before it goes on the market at a higher price. Delaying the purchase of space for these three programs will only add to the cost.”

The purchase price of the building would be $2.7 million, and the district expects to incur an additional $900,000 in legal, administrative and renovation costs.

School administrators are promoting the deal as one that would provide the West Program’s 40 students a permanent educational home and free up space at PATHS for the expansion of the expeditionary Casco Bay High School. Funding for the purchase and renovation is proposed to come from the current year’s capital improvement budget.

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