Mayor Carlo DeMaria said late last week that he intends to pursue the idea of buying the shuttered Pope John High School on upper Broadway for the purpose of turning it into affordable senior and veteran housing.
The mayor said the property would have to be purchased with City funds, and he would need to win Council support, but the opportunity is one he doesn’t want to pass up.
“Pope John is on the market,” he said. “We have a lot of charter schools who may try to buy it and expand. Charter schools are good for education, but they also hurt cities and towns. There is an opportunity here for us…I look at it as a neighborhood to build senior and veteran housing. We’re in the early stages right now.”
DeMaria said the area is just right for such a proposal, as it’s not a heavily commercial area and it’s near existing senior housing and open space. He said there aren’t many opportunities to purchase large amounts of land right on Broadway, and this could be a good move.
He said the way it would work is the City could purchase the property, and then put out an RFP in the hopes that community development corporations – such as TND or others – would respond with a project. He said he hopes that they can put an Everett preference on the units in any such development, perhaps as much as 100 percent Everett preference.
“A lot of seniors want to get out of a larger house and stay in the city,” he said. “Maybe this could be an opportunity for them.”
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he would support such a project and expenditure, similar to his early support for the TND St. Therese Church project.
“I strongly believe any action we as a community can take to bring affordable housing into our community and help keeping our seniors and middle-income residents living in our community is something I am fully committed to doing,” he said. “When I heard of Mayor DeMaria’s plan to buy Pope John High School on Broadway and turn it into a fully affordable housing development, I was 100 percent in favor of the idea. Mayor DeMaria can count on my vote for this development.”
There are few details, but DeMaria said the opportunity is there now, and he would be bringing the idea around soon.
“It could be significant City dollars spent to preserve it, but I think it would be money well spent to house veterans and seniors,” he said.