The Future of Gault Middle School
The Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors authorized the sale of Gault Middle School to the Chaffey Building Group on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at the beginning of the school board meeting. The district will retain ownership over the coming months while the buyer goes through a feasibility period with the City of Tacoma.
Board authorizes Gault sale to Chaffey Building Group
On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the Tacoma School District Board of Directors voted to authorize the District to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with Chaffey Building Group for the sale of the former Gault Middle School.
The Chaffey Building Group is proposing to redevelop the historic Gault Middle School into housing, and then add additional for-sale and for-rent housing and an urban village mix of retail, to potentially include a small grocery store, restaurant, and other amenities. Early plans also include pedestrian pathways and green space on the site are also included, including community gathering space that could host a farmers’ market. The vision was widely supported by the neighborhood.
With the agreement approval, the Chaffey Building Group moves into a feasibility process with the City of Tacoma that includes activities such as confirming condition of the building, additional public outreach and creating a more detailed master plan for the property.
Gault Accessory Building Demolition Completed
Demolition work at the Gault Middle School campus has been completed. This work did not include the original 1926 structure but was focused on the later add-on buildings including the science building, gymnasium, classroom portables and the former Eastside pool. Grass seed has been planted, building accesses have been closed and graffiti continues to be addressed. A new perimeter fence will be installed in November, supply chain issues allowing.
About the Chaffey proposal
The Chaffey Building Group proposes to purchase the property and create an urban infill project centered on the adaptive reuse and restoration of the historic Gault Middle School, which would include approximately 195-230 workforce and mixed-market-rate, including more than 50 units in the original 1926 structure, 80-100 units in an additional mid-rise apartment complex; and 65-80 for-sale townhomes with enclosed garages.
The balance of the property would include an urban village mix of commercial and retail tenants that could include neighborhood shops such as coffee shops, small gym, restaurant, bar, and possibly a small grocer. The group’s plan also includes pedestrian pathways, public greenspace, and a community gathering space that could host a farmer’s market or other events.
This plan also includes listing the property on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Tacoma Historic Register.
Gault Middle School, 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 the then-new First Creek Middle School and the site was declared surplus. Since then, the building has sat vacant other than for use as a community pool by Metro Parks Tacoma until it was replaced by the Eastside Community Center facilities in fall 2018.
Several uses have been explored over the years, from veterans housing to, more recently, development by Tacoma Housing Authority. This recent request for proposals was open to all government, nonprofit, and private entities.
Most recently, the district received three responses to its April 2022 call for proposals to purchase and redevelop the property, which were evaluated looking at three criteria: the experience and qualifications of each team, finances and feasibility related to implementing the project, and the proposed use and community benefit. The public was also invited to comment on the projects’ proposed use and community benefit. Also, because the original 1926 structure is considered to have historic value, all proposals were required to include reuse of the original structure.
An evaluation team scored the proposals, leading to the Chaffey Building Group’s proposal being recommended for board approval.