The former McKinley School could soon be home to an early education center, community art and education space and workforce development programs. At a public forum on Tuesday night, consultants and city officials presented the findings of the McKinley School visioning process, a process that has seen input online and at four public forums over the past several months. The Reimagining the McKinley School Project is a joint project between the City of Revere and MassDevelopment.
“The school has been vacant since it closed in 2014, so this is a really great time to think about what it could be and what it could do for the city since it is located in the heart of the city here in Revere,” said Elise Zilius of project consultant Studio Luz Architects.
The goal of repurposing and rehabbing the shuttered school building is to transform it into “a beacon of accessibility … for education and community programming, as well as creating spaces for entrepreneurship to thrive and support a network of economic mobility, as well as workforce training for individuals,” said Sophie Nahrmann of Studio Luz.
The top three uses for the school identified by the public are community education space, early education space and performing arts and gallery space.
“The primary program for the McKinley School will be early education and childcare space, surrounded by a network of community center and community education spaces,” said Nahrmann.
Those community spaces could include wellness programs, community classrooms, multipurpose spaces, workforce training spaces and spaces that could be shared by smaller nonprofits. In addition, the initial plans for the third floor of the building call for a small theater space bracketed by art and music studio space. The community event spaces would be focused in the basement, with a mixture of early childhood education and care spaces that could also double as community and workforce development space on the first and second floors.
“These three create a constellation around an early education core to create a really vibrant and diverse multigenerational space that can draw members from all over the community into the center of the town,” said Nahrmann.
The total building square footage is about 36,000 square feet, of which about two-thirds is usable space.
“The bones of the building still are here, and we are keeping 85 percent of the existing footprint, but then adding in elements to key areas to make it flexible for the community and just liven up the space completely so that it is a place that people want to come to,” said Zilius.
The next steps to make any kind of renovation and rehabilitation at the school a reality include a feasibility analysis of the building structure, an environmental analysis and an ADA analysis.
“We’re going to be working on getting some ideas of what all this is going to cost; that’s the next step,” said Julie DeMauro of the city’s Planning & Community Development Department. “Once those steps are in place, we will really be going out for some big funding when we understand what it is going to take to rehab this building into space we all want to see.”
DeMauro said next steps will also include identifying specific programs besides the school department’s early education program that could use the space.