The Chehalis School District is currently considering a buyer interested in two elementary school buildings that closed following the construction of Orin C. Smith and James W. Lintott elementaries.
The district reportedly entered into a feasibility study in March with an interested buyer and began formally considering the sale of the two schools — R.E. Bennett and Cascade elementaries, which were both built in the 1920s — later that month, according to district Communications Coordinator Andy Lynch.
There is currently no anticipated closing date for the two schools, Lynch wrote in reply to questions from The Chronicle.
"We are so appreciative to our community who supported the passing of the bond and building of Lintott and Smith. Our elementary students now have state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure. We are also thrilled that there is interest in the purchase of R.E. Bennett and Cascade, and we are hopeful that these buildings continue to enrich our community,” said Superintendent Christine Moloney in a statement.
Olympic Elementary, a third elementary that was also decommissioned after the two buildings opened, is not currently being considered for sale, Lynch said.
The building is currently being used as office space for district business and is also regularly leased out to groups such as the Lewis Conservation District, Olympic Academy and the Chehalis Foundation.
The district’s two newest schools were constructed thanks to a $35.9 million bond that voters passed in 2015 and the donation of the campus by the Shaw family. Money also went to make upgrades at Olympic Elementary, according to the ballot initiative.
The total cost to build both schools was about $63 million, which included the bond and about $27 million in state funds, according to previous reports from The Chronicle. The school board last December was also considering spending an additional $820,000 from the bond on capital projects.
Lynch said R.E. Bennett and Cascade cannot be used for “educational purposes” as the Chehalis School Board passed a resolution shortly after the bond’s passage barring them from such in order to secure state-assisted construction funding.
Both elementary schools are located on adjoining parcels that take up about 5.32 acres of land in Chehalis’ downtown area, between Market Boulevard and Cascade Avenue.
A feasibility study released in 2019 detailed possible roadmaps developers could take to outfit the land with multiple housing options, according to previous reports in The Chronicle. Demolishing both buildings in lieu of townhouses or single-family lots seemed the best fit on paper, though there were options to renovate R.E. Bennett.
Both the Port of Chehalis and the school district funded the report.
According to 2021 assessments from the Lewis County Assessor’s Office, both schools and properties were assessed for more than $3.74 million combined.
More information on the sale and buyer is expected soon.