Almanac

Schools - September 11, 2013

Beechwood School breaks ground

by Sandy Brundage

The past 12 months have been a challenging time for Beechwood School, a private Belle Haven facility for grades K-8, as it overcame a fire that destroyed a third-grade classroom and the administrative offices last year.

But now, the school is preparing to grow. A groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 5 marks the start of a $12 million campus expansion.

"The time is right to take the next step in our mission to help students succeed in their personal and family lives and in their communities," Development Director Melinda Christopherson said in an announcement. "The 'temporary' campus has served us well for longer than we could have hoped. We are thrilled now with the opportunity to create a new physical environment for our school."

In March, the school bought from Menlo Park for $1.25 million the site it sits on at 50 Terminal Ave., as well as another 1.5 acres. Construction will take place in two phases, split between 2013 and 2014, and will add nine classrooms; a social center; spaces dedicated to science, art and music; a library; garden; a track and field; and a new administration building, Principal Dave Laurance said.

The land purchase contract allows the city to buy back the land for the purchase price if the construction of the new campus isn't substantially finished in five years, and also gives Menlo Park the right of first refusal should the school decide to sell the land for a non-educational use.

Habitat for Humanity had planned to build 22 affordable homes on the parcel, but pulled the plug on the development after facing 10 years of community opposition and financial difficulties.

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