Next Steps for Former Gault MS Campus
About Gault Middle School
Since the closure of Gault Middle School in 2009, Tacoma Public Schools has continuously sought solutions to activate the space at the site. TPS believes in community partnership and actively worked with the community to determine and work toward the right fit for the site.
Several uses have been explored over the years, from veterans housing to potential development by Tacoma Housing Authority to a residential/mixed-use retail property. The pandemic, rising interest rates, rising construction costs, and the continued deterioration of the site and constant vandalism have limited the options.
After more than a decade of work exploring a variety of potential solutions, TPS determined it would demolish the building and develop the property. A fire at the site required that the demolition of the building take place earlier than scheduled.
TPS is currently exploring how it will develop the site for school district use.
When and why did the district close Gault?
Gault Middle School, built in 1926 at 1115 East Division Lane in Tacoma, was closed in 2009 due to declining enrollment in the district. Students from McIlvaigh and Gault middle schools were consolidated into a new building, First Creek Middle school. The Gault site was declared surplus, and the district began looking for buyers. McIlvaigh was demolished.
Initially, potential reuses at the Gault site as a whole were severely limited by the community pool operated on the site by Metro Parks Tacoma also in partnership with the City of Tacoma and related underlying property use restrictions. The community pool ran at the Gault site until it was replaced by the Eastside Community Center facilities in fall 2018.
Latest update regarding fire at Gault Middle School Jan. 23
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has concluded its air quality assessment, permitting the district to move forward with the demolition of the existing Gault building. Work hours are scheduled from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an estimated completion time of up to 6 weeks.
Latest update regarding fire at Gault Middle School Jan. 10
On January 3, 2024, just after 4 a.m., officers and Tacoma Fire personnel responded to a fire at Gault Middle School located at 1115 E Division Lane.
Tacoma Fire fought the fire intermittently for several days as arson detectives launched their investigation into the cause. Over the past week, arson investigators developed probable cause for the arrest of three juveniles.
On January 10, 2024, Tacoma Police, with the assistance of Gig Harbor police, apprehended two 15-year-old males and a 15-year-old female. All three were taken into custody without incident and booked into Remann Hall for Arson 1st degree and Burglary 2nd degree. The investigation is ongoing.
Visit the City of Tacoma for more information about Gault Middle School Fire and Hazardous Materials Risk: Q&A.
Update regarding fire at Gault Middle School Jan. 5
Fire Department response and demolition work at the former Gault school site is ongoing per directive of the fire department for public safety in the wake of Wednesday’s widespread fire.
Wednesday, the Tacoma Fire Department declared the site an emergency due to its extreme structural damage caused by the fire and instructed Tacoma Public Schools to immediately begin the process of selectively deconstructing the building for the safety of the public. That initial selective demolition was completed to the Fire Department’s satisfaction Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, the Tacoma Fire Department continued to battle hot spots and analyze the integrity of the building. Demolition crews returned in the afternoon to complete additional demolition required on the north and west exterior walls. Tacoma Public Schools repaired the fence to secure the site.
As of Friday morning, the fire department officially left the site and handed control of the property back to TPS (Tacoma Public Schools), furthermore, fire crews will continue to respond to new reports of flames and intermittently monitor the property until demolition is complete.
All roads are open and perimeter fences are secured with "no trespassing" signs displayed. The site is off limits to public access. Demolition crew equipment is being stored on site, and an environmental consultant will be on site Monday analyzing debris for demolition and disposal. Demolition is expected to restart once the scope of work is determined.
Recently, a demolition permit for the closed structure was approved by the City of Tacoma at the end of December and was waiting to be issued after the conclusion of the Department of Ecology SEPA process next week. District staff had been working on contractor selection with the goal of beginning demolition in February. With the declared emergency, that process was expedited.
Updates about Gault can be found on the district’s website, Next Steps for Former Gault MS Campus - Tacoma Public Schools (tacomaschools.org).
For media inquiries, contact Tanisha Jumper at email@example.com or 253-571-1007.