Demolition of former Genesee Elementary could begin in November: Construction scheduled to start in May

Information from the School Design Advisory Team (SDAT) meeting in mid-May and the quarterly Genesee Schmitz Neighborhood Council:

Demolition and construction timeline:
Eric Becker, Sr. Project Manager for Seattle Schools, reported in June that demolition of the existing building has been delayed somewhat. Demolition would begin in November at the earliest, or as late as the following spring. Construction is scheduled to start next May, with the new school to be completed in December 2015 and opening for students in January 2016.

Future meetings:
The next SDAT meeting will be in July, and the next community meeting on the school will be in the fall sometime.

Soils work and traffic study: Some additional soil cores were collected on the NE corner of the property to obtain better information for building construction there. In addition, a traffic study was done around the school for 1 week to determine the traffic patterns; this site benefits from the fact that Schmitz Park Elementary is nearby, with similar patterns. Traffic impacts from the school will be helped somewhat by the fact that the times of heaviest traffic are offset somewhat from the heaviest work commuting times.

Landscape plan:
Tom Rengstorf, the project's landscape architect, pointed out the following features of the landscape plan as it is currently designed (i.e., still subject to change):

  • Parking strips will have at least 3 types of trees planted, per city regulations.
  • A new sidewalk will be included along Dakota Street (where the main entrance of the school is).
  • The slopes will get low-water-use plants (up to small tree size). The existing significant trees on the slopes will be retained.
  • There will be low walls for seating around a rain garden in the front courtyard.
  • Bikes will be stored near the main office (for better visibility and security) and also around by the gym.
  • There will be mower access between the hardscape play area and the grassy field. There is also a goal of having irrigation for the grass field.
  • The filed will have a 10' fence around it for ball control.
  • The actual location of the fence around the entire perimeter of the school is still in discussion within the district.
  • There will be a separate play area for the kindergarteners near their classrooms, as well as play areas for younger kids and older kids as part of the main playground.
  • The existing paths on the slope will be kept and repaved (but not likely widened due to slope stability concerns).

Building design:
Lee Fenton of BLRB Architects reviewed the building plans as submitted to the district for cost estimates. So far, it appears that the project is within square footage requirements but over budget. Thus, the cover for the waiting area at the front of the school is in jeopardy, and the landscape architect will be pushed hard to keep his overall costs down (making salvage more attractive if it is allowed). The screenings proposed to be on the outside of the classroom wing closest to the neighbors on 49th are now also likely to be omitted.

Community input: The community requested the following:
Continued use of the lower field for as long as possible during construction

  • Nice entrance to property off of Genesee
  • Removal of Scotch broom
  • Flexibility built into construction of roofs, such that additional uses could be considered later, especially on first floors
  • Cohesive look to school roof, which has several different styles at the moment
  • Exploration of native and nonnative plant salvage options, with first choice being to reuse the plants onsite, second choice being to reuse on other district property, and third choice to make plants available to the public.

Gretchen DeDecker is the district contact for salvage questions.

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