Portland panel still debating fate of former Reed School

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PORTLAND — The vacant and unused Thomas B. Reed School will have to continue waiting for a new purpose.

Christine Grimando, senior planner for the city, said a task force looking at ways to reuse the building is still evaluating potential uses of the building.

But she added “several themes have emerged from the public input received to date.”

“Residential, education, community space, health and wellness-related uses, or some combination of these, have all been discussed,” Grimando said. She also said the potential for some of the property to be used as publicly accessible open space has also been discussed.

Last summer, the City Council accepted ownership of the school at 28 Homestead Ave., and began searching for a new use for the nearly 34,000-square-foot building. It was built in 1926, with an addition  in 1950, and sits on approximately 2.5 acres.

The Reed School Reuse Advisory Committee was established by the city’s Planning and Urban Development Department. Grimando said the committee will have three more meetings, with dates to be determined, but said she believes they will be a month or so apart from each other.

“I anticipate they will forward their recommendations in late spring,” she said.

A report will then go to the Housing and Community Development Committee and City Council, Grimando said, with follow-up on recommended redevelopment uses to follow.

The building recently has served as the district’s central kitchen until that service moved to a new facility on Waldron Way in 2013. Occasionally, the space has been donated for community events, such as art classes. In the year before the city took ownership, the building served as a place for limited storage.

Since then, it has remained vacant. And it shows.

The outside of the building, in the middle of a residential neighborhood, is marked with graffiti and buried in snow. Its bricks are weathered bricks and windows are covered.

Reed is not the only school handed over to the city for disposal or reuse. Both the former West School on Douglass Circle and the former Nathan Clifford School on Falmouth Street were closed in recent years.

The West Day Treatment program moved to the School Department’s new central offices at 353 Cumberland Ave. The program was renamed the Bayside Learning Community and now occupies the bottom floor of the former Goodwill Industries building.

The Nathan Clifford School, which was shut in 2011, was sold for $1 to the Developers Collaborative to be turned into apartments.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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The Thomas B. Reed School sits vacant on Homestead Avenue in Portland. Since it ceased being a school, the building has had other functions, including being the school district’s central kitchen and warehouse. A task force looking at ways to reuse the building has not decided what the building might become.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.