Vancouver Public Schools announced a plot of land downtown is where the district plans to build a new elementary school.

Vancouver Public Schools announced a plot of land downtown is where the district plans to build a new elementary school.

Molly Solomon/OPB

Vancouver Public Schools announced plans Tuesday to open a new elementary school in the heart of downtown.

The K-5 school was described by the district as a school of choice, or a magnet school, similar to Vancouver School of Arts and Academics or Vancouver iTech Preparatory. The new facility will accommodate up to 500 students with programs focusing on arts and innovation. 

The new elementary school will be built on a parcel of land owned by Killian Pacific adjacent to the city’s library downtown. It’s also one of the projects that was included in a $458 million bond voters approved last February. 

“Having a downtown school as the population grows really is essential to serve the needs of the community,” said Todd Horenstein, the district’s assistant superintendent for facilities.

“We were looking for something in the core of the city to accommodate new residents and families,” he said.

According to the city, more than 1,200 new multi-family apartments and condos are in the works for the downtown Vancouver area. The neighborhood is expecting a surge of growth as construction continues on the much-anticipated waterfront project.

“There is now a demand and will be a demand into the future for a school for kids living downtown,” said Chad Eiken, the city’s director of community and economic development.

“Not many cities have taken on a downtown, urban school,” he added. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of that.”

The city is working with the school district to secure the site and will likely divide up the nearly 3-acre lot to use for other purposes. Vancouver Public Schools plans to use less than a third of the space for the elementary school. The city said the rest of the space could go toward a public parking lot and a larger multi-use project.

Vancouver Public Schools plans to start construction after the land purchase is complete, likely sometime this spring. The district estimates the elementary school will be ready to open in fall of 2021.