Great news out of left field:
International House of Customs
Posted By Tim DuRoche on 04/07/2009
Portland Spaces/Burnside Blog
After what seem like months of school budget cuts, woe-filled stories about resource-strapped classrooms, and “right-sizing” staff positions at the district-level (including this week’s news that Portland Public Schools was eliminating their Arts specialist position ), it’s about time we heard something heartening about education and schools.
This just in:
The US Dept of Education has awarded Customs House Building at 220 NW 8th Avenue to The International School language immersion school — bringing more educational energy to the North Park Blocks. The site was acquired through the DOE Surplus Federal Real Property Program. The DOE awarded the building for the TIS Spanish, Chinese & Japanese full immersion program that currently educates 400 students in preschool through 5th grade over in the land of SoWa.
This would be the second K-5 in the neighborhood (Emerson Charter School is on the North Park Blocks at NW Couch). It’s a great addition to the burgeoning educational/cultural Davis Street corridor— and it will be a great locale for connecting TIS students with not only related multicultural resources like the Chinese Garden and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, but to the Gerding Theater, Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Oregon Jewish Museum, Wieden+Kennedy, the Pearl Galleries, and more.
In TIS’ press release announcing the good news, Congressman David Wu, who helped move the deal through, was quoted as saying: “I am pleased that there will finally be a tenant for the beautiful, historic Customs House. . .the International School will help reinvigorate an area of our city with long-standing multicultural roots, furthering the exciting work already underway to revitalize Old Town/Chinatown.”
It’s early still, but present plans would allow TIS to increase the square-footage of its classrooms for project and inquiry-based learning, and to have a sizable multi-language library and media center, large art and music rooms, meeting and social areas, two indoor gym/play areas, science labs, and teacher work areas.
The 49,000+ sq. foot Customs House (on the historic register since 1974) is being conveyed to TIS at no cost through a Public Benefit Allowance. It is currently vacant. Early word on the street says to expect a major green historical renovation and substantial upgrades to deal with seismic and programming issues. The award is contingent with TIS relocating their entire school within three years of the property’s conveyance.
The bustling energy of 400+ kids and their families is surely to lend momentum and verve to the OTCT/Downtown core’s sense of “collective efficacy.”