A new tenant — or several — could begin repurposing Davenport’s now-vacant Lincoln Elementary School by January.
Official proposals are due Oct. 31 to the Davenport Community School District, which has a timeline in place to vote on a reuse plan for the facility by Dec. 10, Superintendent Art Tate said.
Rather than selling the school, which the Davenport School Board voted to close last spring because of budget cuts, Tate said the district plans to lease portions, or all, of the building to groups and organizations that fit the follow criteria:
- Offer “intrinsic value” to the Davenport community as a whole.
- Provide positive impact on the immediate neighborhood near the school, located at 318 E. 7th St., with activities “compatible with the neighborhood.”
- Expect to stay for a long time at the Lincoln site.
District officials also will consider how much rent the groups are willing to pay, which is required in the official written proposals, Tate added.
“We’re asking them for firm proposals: How much space you need, what you will use it for, how much are you willing to pay for rent,” the superintendent said. “We hope it will enhance the neighborhood.”
A committee — which will include Tate, two school board members, a community member and a Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce representative — is expected to interview applicants by Nov. 15.
Then, a public forum will be held during the week of Nov. 26, to get community feedback that could affect the district’s decision, the superintendent said. A final vote by the school board is scheduled Dec. 10.
When Lincoln closed in May, the school was operating at one-third of the building’s capacity, Tate said.
Many of those students now attend the new J.B. Young K-8 School, which served only middle school students until this school year. That educational model is proving successful, Tate said, adding that he has visited J.B. Young about four times since the beginning of the school year.
He hopes for more positive change in Lincoln’s reuse, he said.
“We want something that’s going to be there awhile,” Tate said. “I hope it will have more interest than the originals that we had, so we can have choices for both us and the community.”
Board member Bill Sherwood said he hopes Lincoln neighborhood residents get involved in the process. Meanwhile, board member Rich Clewell praised the superintendent for leading a smooth transition.
“From the very beginning, he used the term ‘repurpose’ rather than close this school,” Clewell said. “We didn’t want to just toss it into the four winds, but to do something purposeful with it that would continue to support that inner-city community.”