KIPP provides new transfusion for Blood building

ByThor Jourgensen

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The Economic Development and Industrial Corp. is reviewing plans to renovate the J.B. Blood building even as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Charter School adds classrooms in the Wheeler Street building.

KIPP houses 121 kindergarten students and offices in the Blood building and plans to add a first grade, pushing its enrollment to 240 students in September.

“We’ll be on two floors and adding to that,” said Caleb Dolan, KIPP’s Massachusetts executive director. “We love being in the heart of the city.”

EDIC owns the Blood building two blocks away from the Lynnway and Market Street and leases space in it. KIPP searched for classroom space last year after getting state approval to add an elementary school program to the middle school and high school the charter school operates in the Highlands.

Dolan said the Blood building is a temporary academic and administrative location while KIPP seeks a building to lease or purchase. He said the school wants to acquire long-term or permanent space to educate 600 kindergarten through fourth-grade students.

“We’d look at fall 2018 or 2019,” Dolan said.

James Cowdell, EDIC director, called the charter school “a good tenant and a good fit” for the Blood building, and said no other tenants will be relocated in the facility as a result of KIPP’s expansion.

Fleetwood Media Productions has been in the Blood building for eight years and owner Wayne Terminello said he has a good relationship with EDIC.

“Ideally, cost-wise, to stay here is my best bet,” he said.

Repair plans for the Blood building include extensive masonry and window replacement work. An estimate provided to EDIC lists 48,000-square-feet of masonry work, including repointing brick walls, washing exterior walls and repairing concrete surfaces.

The building has 146 windows with repairs and replacement costing $636,000. Masonry work cost estimates total $520,000 with staging, planning and work preparation costing $320,000 and interior work in the building estimated to cost $200,000.

No specific starting date for the renovation work has been set.