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Friday, July 11, 2014

Washington High School Development to Include Music Venue

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Washington High School, an anchor of the Buckman neighborhood at SE Stark and 14th, has been sitting empty for years—it last held regular classes in 1981. The city of Portland bought it in 2005, but other than the Time-Based Arts Festival using as a hub during the years of 2009-2013, it's been waiting for the right hands to reinvent it. (Read more about its history here.) The local developers/preservationists of Venerable Properties (in conjunction with PacTrust) bought the building in October 2013, and now news is starting to trickle out about the building's future. It all sounds pretty exciting.

The Washington High School site has lots of information about the project, but the Mercury has heard unconfirmed rumors about some specifics: namely, that the school's auditorium is being turned into a live music venue, with the room being refurbished by the folks at Mississippi Studios. However, Mississippi Studios will not be exclusive bookers of the room—it will be open to all Portland bookers to put on shows there. While its calendar will primarily be geared around live music, it may also host other events during the week, such as Ted Talks. The owners of Mississippi Studios are currently installing a top-notch sound system for the room and will handle concessions for the venue as well. They'll be operating a bar on site, although it won't be another Bar Bar. Right now, the forecast is for the room to hold around 800 seated audience members, although possible configurations of the space (perhaps with standing room) might allow for a slightly higher capacity.

The development will also include retail and office space, as well as an on-site restaurant on the ground floor that will include outdoor seating on the terrace. There's also plans for a roof deck, although that may be a private rental space. (Check out the development's site for more hints.) The project is scheduled to come online sometime around November, although the auditorium venue—as yet unnamed—probably won't kick off until between Valentine's Day and Easter in 2015, with some preview events possibly taking place before then.

Stay tuned for further developments. While the reinvention of a historic building is great news in and of itself, it sounds like it's in the right hands with Venerable, and the news of the live music venue is the cherry.

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