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Private Northwest School announces $8.6M in property acquisitions around Summit campus

(Image: Northwest School)

The challenges of educating Seattle’s youth are daunting. But schools continue to be a growth industry on Capitol Hill.

Summit Ave’s private Northwest School announced Wednesday morning $8.6 million in property acquisitions to expand its city-style mixed middle and high school campus.

Map courtesy Northwest School

Formerly owned by Barokas Martin and Tomlinson Law Firm, the properties include land and building structures at 1422 and 1418 Bellevue, and a 14-space parking lot at 1417 Bellevue. “The building at 1418, which is in disrepair, will be deconstructed and the land converted into a ‘pop-up’ garden. In accordance with the school’s sustainability values, the materials from deconstruction will be salvaged or repurposed, whenever possible,” according to the school’s announcement. The school’s business offices, meanwhile, will move temporarily to the 1422 building.

There are bigger plans for the properties ahead.

“This is an extremely important transaction for the school and part of our 2013-2018 strategic plan,” head of school Mike McGill said in the announcement. “This new property gives us the opportunity to expand our teaching and learning areas while at the same time allowing for more green space and enhancing the connection between our buildings.”

Longer term, Northwest says the expansion will allow it to “provide additional classroom, office, and meeting spaces” and “to engage architects in a needs assessment and master planning process.” “The long-range plan is to utilize all three properties in ways that best serve the school’s programmatic needs and aspirations,” the school’s announcement reads. There are no plans to increase enrollment “significantly,” the school says, or to separate the middle and high schools.

More than 500 students attend Northwest School, including 50 in the school’s international boarding program. Middle schoolers pay more than $34,000 a year to attend, while high schoolers owe more than $36,000. International students pay about 10% more — high schoolers from the international program can pay an additional $16,000 to live in the school’s dormitory.

School officials aren’t yet ready to say whether housing — for students or as part of potential mixed-use development — could be part of the plans. “We’re doing a strategic plan right now and then planning to do a needs assessment first before defining exactly how we will develop the properties,” a school spokesperson tells CHS. “The long range plan is to utilize all three properties in ways that best serve the school’s programmatic needs and aspirations.”

The successful school has been steadily growing its presence on the Hill. In 2014, it debuted its $19 million gymnasium + theater + cafeteria + sports field “vertical campus” above E Pike and Bellevue.

In 2013, CHS reported on a wave of big projects from Capitol Hill’s private schools including $26 million in construction and seismic upgrades at North Capitol Hill’s Seattle Prep high school. Construction on Seattle Academy’s $48 million “vertically oriented” new middle school building at 13th and Union, meanwhile, is underway. The academy project is the second phase of a two-phase, $70 million construction project for the school. The first part, the Stream building at 13th Ave and Spring, opened in 2015.

Public schools haven’t been quite as acquisitive or aggressive with development but there’s at least one big Capitol Hill project of note. The Meany Middle School is again active with teens after some $14.2 million in upgrades to the E Republican at 21st Ave E campus.

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3 thoughts on “Private Northwest School announces $8.6M in property acquisitions around Summit campus

  1. Wish they’d invest in a trust to move towards being a need-blind institution. I feel like that aligns much more with their purported values than the corporate “grow, grow, grow!” attitude this latest acquisition reeks of.

  2. It’s not as daunting when they charge a tuition that is similar to what a minimum wage worker earns in a year working full time.

  3. Dear Paul R.,

    Thank you for your comment regarding The Northwest School and our work toward a “needs-blind” admissions process. We have spent the last three years with one primary fundraising focus – growing our financial aid funding. As a school of 504 students, we are constantly striving to provide more aid for those with demonstrated need. Our current effort to increase our financial aid endowment is one effort to seriously address the issue of access. As of 10/31/2017 we have grown our financial aid endowment by 194% in 3 years. Our school is very serious about addressing the issue of access to a quality education. In the current fiscal year, we are spending over $2.3 million on financial aid assistance for our students and we have no plans to slow our progress on this critical issue for our students and families.