The Ravenswood City School District board is expected to approve a contract with a developer this week to build dense housing on the site of the former James Flood Magnet School, moving forward on a project that has been the center of controversy among local residents.
The agreement with Alliant Strategic Development specifies that the project would have 80 to 90 affordable rental units, with priority for teachers and school staff, adding homes to a location that has been vacant for more than a decade. The proposed agreement includes a 90-year ground lease, with the Ravenswood district retaining ownership of the land.
If built, district officials say the housing project would generate between $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue each year, which can be used to pay for school services in a high-needs district.
The development of the former school site at 2037 Pulgas Ave. has been fraught with political controversy, as many neighbors and the school district have been at odds over the number of units to be built. The debate led to the controversial Measure V ballot initiative in Menlo Park last year, which sought to put all rezoning of single-family lots including the Flood School site to a citywide vote.
Measure V was soundly defeated in the November 2022 election but received its highest level of support in the precincts surrounding Flood School.
William Eger, chief business officer of the Ravenswood City School District, said that 85% of its staff that responded to a survey would be eligible for and interested in affordable housing operated by the district.
School district officials have weighed adding a second entrance to the site, which some nearby residents have requested as a way to manage traffic from the planned apartment complex. But school board members said it would be too expensive for the district to add to the project without some help. Instead, board members said that they would reach out to the city of Menlo Park or San Mateo County for additional funding.
"(The second entrance) is something that I know that we financially can't afford to do because we do want to bring in ... money for our budget, in order to continue to pay our teacher salaries and keep them in the county," said Trustee Jenny Varghese Bloom. "Hopefully the city and the county will also continue to pursue that second entrance."
Board members directed staff to draft a letter to seek outside funding an extra entrance.
The Ravenswood City School District Board is set to vote on the agreement at the meeting on Thursday, March 9.