The former Manitou Community Center, which finally sold to a developer in March about four years after Metro Parks Tacoma declared it surplus, is set to be demolished this summer to make way for 16 single-family homes.
Originally built as an elementary school, the South Tacoma property sold for $200,000. A 2009 survey by commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis said Metro Parks should look to sell the property for $450,000 to $600,000.
Built in 1924, Metro Parks acquired Manitou in 1994 from Tacoma Public Schools. The building hasn’t been used as a community center in more than a decade. From 2005 to early 2016, the east part of the building was leased to a private user that operated a daycare and preschool, and the west side has been locked, Metro Parks said.
Still, it has history in the community, and some neighbors were upset at learning the old elementary school would be knocked down, said City Councilman Joe Lonergan.
“There are several people in the neighborhood who went to that school and have a lot of affinity for it,” Lonergan said. “There was certainly a desire for the community to keep the center. There were several people who wanted it to stay exactly as it was; the problem with that is it was falling apart.”
1924 Year the former Manitou Elementary School was built
1994 Metro Parks Tacoma acquires building from Tacoma Public Schools to use as community center
2012 Building declared surplus by Metro Parks and put on the market
Problems with the building were first detected in the early 2000s, and a 2001 audit uncovered a number of issues, including asbestos and structural deficiencies, according to Metro Parks.
Developer Ken Ritter of Northridge Homes, based in Tacoma, said the asbestos survey of the building has been completed, and abatement will start in three to four weeks. He said they hope to start demolition around mid-July.
“I am working with the city of Tacoma to make the necessary connections so that we can schedule a community meeting sometime around the end of June,” Ritter said in an email. The meeting will go over the timeline of demolition and construction, as well as details of the new development that will take place on the property.
The homes, which will be mostly two stories and will have lots ranging from about .15 acre to .18 acre, will be built on a speculation basis, he said.