Housing plans filed for Portland's former Reed School

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PORTLAND — As the developer and city prepare to celebrate the opening of a unique preschool in the former Thomas B. Reed School, plans for housing in the building have also been filed.

A ribbon-cutting for the private, nonprofit Children’s Odyssey preschool will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at 19 Libby St., city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said in a press release Tuesday.

Developer’s Collaborative, led by Kevin Bunker, also plans to convert 14,000 square feet of classrooms at the school into eight, one-bedroom apartments in the second phase of redevelopment.

The site plan application was filed Aug. 1 and will require Planning Board review.

The project would be the second time Bunker has converted a former city school into housing. In 2014, he turned the former Nathan Clifford School on Falmouth Street into 22 apartments.

Bunker is also redeveloping the former St. Joseph’s Convent at 605 Stevens Ave. into 88 units of housing for people 55 and older.

Redeveloping Reed School has been a lengthy and sometimes contentious process that included a task force formed in 2014.

The school was built about 90 years ago and expanded about 30 years later. It actually fronts Homestead Street and had been most recently used as the central kitchen for city schools.

Led by former City Councilor David Brenerman, the task force initially received two proposals that would have converted the school into more than 40 housing units of affordable housing units for people 55 and older.

Those proposals were shelved after neighbors objected to the scope of redevelopment.

A second request for qualifications was issued in April 2016; in September 2016, councilors authorized City Manager Jon Jennings to negotiate with Bunker on the sale of the former school.

Developer’s Collaborative outscored Community Housing of Maine by two points in the application process.

The Children’s Odyssey Preschool was a part of the new development plan from the start.

In June, director Susan Hougaz-McCormick said the school for children with and without special education needs will be able to expand its programs at its new home.

The school is had been located on Davis Farm Road, off Riverside Street.

Hougaz-McCormick said enrollment could also nearly double from 68 to 124 as it moves into a 16,500-square-foot setting.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

The second phase of renovating the former Reed School on Libby Avenue in Portland is moving forward as the opening of The Children’s Odyssey preschool is celebrated Aug. 9.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.