Lynn just tossed a plan to build senior housing at the old Marshall Middle School site

An artist rendering of The Residences on Porter, the 120-unit apartment complex proposed for seniors at the shuttered Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street. (Prellwitz Chilinski Associates)

LYNN — It’s back to the drawing board for the closed Thurgood Marshall Middle School.

The City Council rejected the only bid that would have replaced the 95-year-old building on Porter Street with 120 apartments in a wood-frame complex.

“The proposal, while nicely done, did not meet the requirements of the Request For Proposal (RFP),” said Ward 2 City Councilor Richard Starbard.  

B’nai B’rith Housing, a Brighton nonprofit that builds affordable homes for seniors in Greater Boston, proposed The Residences on Porter. The $37.1 million plan included 70 market rate apartments and 50 reserved for low- and moderate-income elders.

The three-story buildings would have included elevators, a community room, fitness center, library, and media space.

Under the terms of the RFP set by the School Committee, the minimum price for the 172,513-square-foot building on the 3.4-acre site was $4 million. The property is assessed at $9.7 million.

While B’nai B’rith agreed to pay $4 million, the nonprofit’s project budget includes a contribution of $2.2 million from the city for the demolition.

While the loan for the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Brookline Street included $2.2 million for demolition of the shuttered school, James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, said City Hall is not required to spend the cash on razing the school. It could be used toward construction or repair of another school, he said.

The project budget also calls for nearly $18 million in tax credits, not unusual for housing projects that include affordable units.

Susan Gittleman, B’nai B’rith’s executive director, said the agency tried to be as responsive as they could to meet all of the RFP’s criteria to implement the city’s vision.

“To make the project work, we proposed to use the $2.2 million that was reserved for demolition,” she said. “We gave it our best shot and we will continue to overturn stones to identify other sources of revenue. We want to work with the city to provide these apartments where the need is enormous.”

The School Committee is set to take up the matter next month. They have several options. They could reissue the RFP without changes; lower the purchase price; or shelve the idea and save the school and the land for a future school project, Lamanna said.

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