Gault Middle School will be redeveloped. Help Tacoma Public Schools choose the plan

TACOMA, Wash. — It’s time to decide the future of Gault Middle School.

Tacoma Public Schools is seeking feedback for three proposals to redevelop the 7.3-acre school campus that has been vacant for years. The former Gault Middle School campus, 1115 E. Division Lane, closed in 2009.

Tacoma Public Schools owns the property but cannot operate as developers, director of strategic planning Alicia Lawver said during a virtual Q&A session Monday.

Here are the three proposals being debated:

Chaffey Building Group proposed workforce and market-rate housing and an urban-infill small retail center. The property would include 50-plus market-rate and workforce apartment units, with a mix of for-rent and for-sale residential units. The urban village could include neighborhood shops, like coffee shops, small gyms, a restaurant, a bar and a small grocer. Chaffey Building Group plans to add a neighborhood square for farmers markets and other gatherings.

“Our project will align with the community’s values and vision and provide the housing and amenities neighbors want and deserve,” Kelly Lawrence, the group’s president and CEO, said in the proposal letter. “We will be a champion with our neighbors to ensure this historically underserved community is heard and thrives as they call our development home.”

Lawrence wrote the group plans to qualify the property to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Tacoma Historic Register.

Sager Family Homes wants to redevelop the existing schoolhouse into a community center, similar to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood. It will include 60 to 80 townhomes and detached single-family units, with a portion of units for low-income households. Sager’s proposal states “housing for families of differing incomes and needs will be at the heart of the redevelopment.” The school building would be owned through a cooperative model stewarded by the local community land trust model, according to the developer’s plans.

Southport Financial Services plans to donate the property to Anchor Church to redevelop it into a church and community center. Its three-phase approach would include exterior improvements to make the building safe and secure, renovating the building’s auditorium, gymnasium, bathrooms, lobby space and 4-5 classrooms to be used for church functions and partnering with nonprofits and government organizations for final renovations. Southport also plans to develop 120-150 deed-restricted, energy-efficient, sustainably built housing units, which would serve low-income individuals and families. The developers have indicated a potential partnership with The Hopes and Dreams Foundation to have after-school classes, childcare and counseling services.

“If awarded, Anchor plans to lean into these conversations, thoroughly assess, and eventually partner with community based organizations who will aid in the renovation of the building while also working to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood,” the developer stated in its proposal.

Tacoma Public Schools will evaluate the proposals based on the proposed use and community benefits, the developer’s experience and qualifications, and finances and feasibility. TPS wants public input on how the developer plans to preserve the main building’s historic elements, how the development would blend with the surrounding neighborhood and how the proposed reuse would benefit the community. Proposals were required to include the reuse of the 1926 structure.

Since its closure more than a decade ago, Gault Middle School has attracted vandalism, litter and property damage during its vacancy.

The school district demolished the science building and gym in April. It also plans to remove the pool and portable classrooms this month. Metro Parks Tacoma used the community pool until 2018.

The recommended proposal will be announced June 30.

Tacoma Public Schools district staff is hosting question and answer sesssions on the projects on Wednesday, June 14, at noon and 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. and Friday, June 17, at noon via Zoom. Links can be found at

This story was originally published by The News Tribune.