, Salem, MA

November 12, 2013

Former school for sale again

Beverly looking for buyers for McKay building


---- — BEVERLY — The for-sale sign is up again at the former McKay School.

For the third time in the last five years, the city is trying to the sell the building that has sat mostly empty since it closed as an elementary school in 2002.

The city has sent out a request for proposals asking qualified parties to bid on the building. The deadline to submit a proposal is Jan. 24.

Mayor Bill Scanlon rejected previous offers in 2008 and 2010 because he thought they were too low. He said the city is trying again because there has been renewed interest in buying the property.

“We’ve had a number of nibbles,” Scanlon said. “People have been talking to us about it, showing an interest in it, so we want to run it up the flagpole again.”

Scanlon turned down an offer of $1 million in 2008 from a developer looking to build apartments on the site. In 2010, he rejected a $900,000 bid from the Cape Ann Waldorf School.

The property is assessed by the city at $2 million. It includes the two-story building on a 2.14-acre site that overlooks the Shoe Pond next to Cummings Center and is across McKay Street from the Beverly Golf & Tennis Club.

The school was built in 1906 and 1907 by the United Shoe Machinery Corp. and opened as the Winslow School in 1908. In its request for proposals, the city said the building is in good physical condition, with the roof and windows replaced and the exterior brickwork repaired in the late 1990s.

The property is zoned for residential use and can be redeveloped for single-family houses. It can also be used for subsidized elderly housing, apartments or condominiums with a special permit from the city.

The request for proposals said the city is also “very receptive” to proposals for mixed and nonresidential uses and will work with the winning bidder to “ensure an efficient permitting/rezoning process.”

The city also wants proposals that will increase public access to the shoreline of the upper Shoe Pond. There is already a public walkway around most of the pond, but the city would like to see a new owner connect the existing walkway along the pond to McKay Street.

In its request for bids, the city said McKay School “holds a special place in Beverly’s history.” A bronze plaque near the building next to the upper Shoe Pond commemorates the landing site of Beverly’s first English settlers in 1628.

The city had looked into the possibility of turning McKay School into a new police station, but officials said it would cost almost as much as building a new one.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or