Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn tries again on selling former Thurgood Marshall Middle School

LYNN — City officials are trying again on the sale of the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School, which continues a lengthy effort to redevelop the property into affordable senior housing.

The City Council’s Request for Proposals (RFP) Committee voted to release another RFP on the 96-year-old former school on Porter Street, which shuttered in 2015.

The city would be soliciting proposals from developers seeking to transform the property into a preferred mix of 80 percent affordable and 20 percent market-rate 55-plus senior housing.

Releasing the RFP follows a Request for Information (RFI) that was issued by the committee last year.

Three developers responded to the RFI the city put out for the property — B’nai B’rith Housing, East Boston Community Development Corporation Inc. (EBCDC) and the New Lynn Coalition — which was meant to give officials a sense of what developers wanted to see in an RFP.

All three groups have expressed interest in submitting bids through the RFP process, according to city officials.

James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, said the new RFP would reverse the original one that was issued, which had a preference for market-rate senior housing. That process solicited only one bid, from B’nai B’rith Housing, which was rejected by the City Council last February.

Developers can submit proposals with an unlimited number of apartment units, but a vast majority of one-bedrooms is preferred.

“There seems to be a market for seniors looking to downsize,” said Lamanna. “(The RFP) recognizes the strain on Lynn Public Schools. Putting (a majority of) two- to three-bedrooms would exacerbate the overcrowding issue.”

The School Committee has final authority on the sale of the property. The panel, which granted the city a six-month extension on the sale in November, was initially requesting a minimum $4 million price tag, but during the RFI process, bids came in far below that desired figure. There is no minimum bid amount in the new RFP.

Proceeds from the sale would go toward long-term capital repairs in the city. The mayor would determine whether the funds would go to the school department for capital needs, such as a future school or school repairs, according to Lamanna.

According to the RFP, affordable senior housing has been identified as a priority in the city, as seniors tend to be on fixed incomes and there are waiting lists for existing senior housing complexes in Lynn.

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