Construction starts tomorrow at Westside School’s new home

(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before construction starts tomorrow at the new Arbor Heights location of Westside School (WSB sponsor), its students have joined in a unique groundbreaking ceremony.

They traveled to the site at 10400 34th SW – formerly Hillcrest Presbyterian Church – on Tuesday afternoon to tour and celebrate.

It was a field trip, and yet it was also “heading home,” the theme for the year ahead, according to Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan, who notes it was also the inscription on commemorative T-shirts:

(Photo courtesy Westside School)
The theme honors the fact that the ~330 students and ~60 staff members of Westside will finally have a permanent home.

Before its move to leased Seattle Public Schools property four years ago, Westside was on a leased Highline Public Schools site, but a home of its own was always the plan. It’s been a year and a half since we first reported Westside’s plan to buy and remodel the acre-and-a-half church site; the $2.7 million purchase closed last December, and now a milestone is in view.

As for the remodel/construction details – aside from an addition of four classrooms, Mulligan says it will be “mostly internal,” with little change to the existing footprint.

(File photo of Hillcrest Presbyterian)
She points out that the church was built with classrooms, offices, even a gym, so it doesn’t need much work to be completely transformed into a school. The main sanctuary building will become the three-story “academic wing” of Westside.

The school is not adding classes, Mulligan says – it’s already been engaged in a growth process, stretching to add a middle school whose first 8th-grade class will graduate this year. But they are “continuing to grow our program, especially in performing and visual arts,” she says, as well as their “emphasis on a global-studies program.”

Updated renderings will be made available at a parents’ meeting coming up in about three weeks. The school will be 53,000 square feet with 27 classrooms, plus a gathering space that will hold at least 500 people, among other features.

The church moved out after a final service last month, for which Mulligan was on hand, and is now just a few blocks away, at 2656 SW 104th. The preschool that’s been in the building is staying through the end of May – construction plans will allow them to stay until the end of their school year, she says. (We are checking with the preschool administration for an update on their future plans.)

If all goes as planned, Westside will move in summer 2015, and the 2015-2016 school year will be the first in its new home: “We’re very excited that our permanent home is the Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle; we’re committed to being in this community for a very long time – we’ve gotten tremendous support from the community and we appreciate it.”

19 Replies to "Construction starts tomorrow at Westside School's new home"

  • Tony April 30, 2014 (4:49 pm)

    Very exciting time for Westside. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds @ the new campus.

  • CoopRules April 30, 2014 (5:43 pm)

    While I wish no ill will upon WestSide, I can’t help but have an aching heart when I think of the impact to our beloved AH Coop. I have not heard any updates regarding relocation details for the coop and am anxious to hear what’s in the future for this awesome program that has served so many families.

    • WSB April 30, 2014 (5:48 pm)

      I sent a message earlier today asking co-op leadership that question. If we get a reply in the next day or so we’ll note it here, or, otherwise, write a separate update. – TR

  • West Seattle Hipster April 30, 2014 (6:12 pm)

    Any word on what will happen to the EC Hughes site?

  • Scoot April 30, 2014 (6:19 pm)

    Welcome to Arbor Heights

  • Tony April 30, 2014 (8:12 pm)

    Hughes become the new emergency stand by building, like Boren was for several years. It’s in such nice shape, wish they would open it as a neighborhood school. BUT, SSD needs to keep buildings on standby in case of emergency needs ie flooding, fire, etc.

  • ocean April 30, 2014 (8:47 pm)

    If Hughes is the new stand-by building, why doesn’t the district use it for the students at Arbor Heights instead of sending them to Boren?
    Oh, because that would make sense and save money on fuel for buses.

    • WSB April 30, 2014 (8:50 pm)

      Because it won’t be ready in time. Hughes won’t be available for another year, at least. Depends on what if any upgrades they need to do after Westside leaves.

  • Tony April 30, 2014 (9:29 pm)

    Thank you WSB. They are starting the move process from AH to Boren already, and Westside will be in the Hughes building for at LEAST one more school year, as mentioned in the story above. So AH occupying Hughes was never an option. BUT you could take Roxhill, move them into Hughes, which has had major upgrading already, and use Roxhill as emergency. THAT would make too much sense.

  • bertha May 1, 2014 (6:23 am)

    Coop Rules – My daughter attended AH Coop years ago and we loved it. I do have to say though that AH Coop has known for over two years they would have to move but chose to not actively pursue alternative sites. By choosing to keep kicking the can down the road instead of dealing with less than ideal sites the powers that be have put the program in jeopardy NOT Westside.

  • KT May 1, 2014 (7:38 am)

    Welcome to the neighborhood! I hope they put in sidewalks on 104th and stop signs at the intersection of 34th and 104th. It’s a blind, uncontrolled intersection and many people drive down the hill on 104th at higher speeds than 20 mph. I’m not holding my breath for the sidewalk, but the stop signs are a no-brainer.

  • j May 1, 2014 (10:01 am)

    Transportation and pedestrian upgrades (I use the word”upgrade”loosely cause there has to be something already there to upgrade) can not be ignored with 300 additional students coming to the new AH elementary and now 500 more a block away at Westside. The lack of pedestrian facilities and speed control (ie; speed bumps and stop signs) may finally get some attention… or does a serious accident have to happen first?

  • NT May 1, 2014 (11:09 am)

    Just to quickly jump in here, I have been involved at AH Co-op for the past two years and must respectfully respond to Bertha’s comment. No one is accusing Westside of anything; quite obviously they bought a building that was for sale and have been pursuing plans and permitting to make a wonderful new home for their community – that is terrific! On the co-op side, there has been an active site search committee both years; this past year alone, they have contacted/visited 49 different locations. The Hillcrest site has been a wonderful, spacious, nearly perfect home for more than 15 years and it is indeed nearly impossible to find a comparable space. I think the co-op parents and staff who have poured countless hours into the process would not characterize their efforts as kicking the can down the road. This is not a co-op versus Westside situation, everyone is trying their very best to do the right thing for their school and I believe both wonderful communities will end up with fabulous new homes!

  • Betsy May 1, 2014 (11:54 am)

    NT, I can’t agree with you more.

    I was involved in the co-op when the building was first put up for sale and did some initial work on the search committee. It IS a really hard job, and finding a comparable affordable place takes so, so many volunteer hours.

    As for Westside buying the building, if you ask me that was the best possible outcome. Someone was going to buy it; the idea of AH Coop staying in perpetuity was sadly not possible. We had other groups initially looking at purchasing it that would have needed the whole building right away, so to have Westside come in and be very upfront about their plans and give us some time was great.

    And yes, I would also disagree with the assessment that they’ve been ‘kicking the can down the road’.

    Good luck AH!! You know how to find me if you need any help moving :)

  • Judy Hall May 1, 2014 (3:54 pm)

    Thanks, Betsy. Yes, the dedicated parents and staff of Arbor Heights Cooperative Preschool have been actively involved in a site search for quite some time. AH Co-op will be relocating temporarily to Tibbetts United Methodist Church. Plans are in the making to move back to the Arbor Heights neighborhood, but they need to wait for an official church board decision before we make that announcement.
    Judy Hall, SSCC Parent Co-op Preschool Instructor

  • Krista May 1, 2014 (4:52 pm)

    We love you Judy! Best wishes for a smooth transition and, to tag on to Betsy’s comment, let coop families old and new help with the move.

  • KM May 2, 2014 (8:05 am)

    Westside have been wonderful neighbors, it will be sad to see them go! I hope they do use the school again, with considerations for removing the sunlight-blocking fence sheet and improving driver-pedestrian safety. Would be very excited for increased patrols to help diminish texting while driving during pick-up and drop-off.

  • Janet Ford May 8, 2014 (12:47 pm)

    On April 15 there was a death in a fire near the West Seattle Police Precint and Home Depot. Has there been any determination in that death yet. It sure sounded suspicious to me.

    • WSB May 8, 2014 (1:01 pm)

      Have mentioned it elsewhere. There were no signs of homicide per SPD but toxicology reports for a final ruling haven’t come in yet.

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