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Posted by Madi Hantho on Friday, 06 February 2015 in The Academy

Academy Sale Finalized

Fort Vancouver National Trust now seeks donors to help with renovations

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

With donors following through on their pledges, the Fort Vancouver National Trust has officially acquired downtown Vancouver's historic Academy.

Mike True, president of the National Trust, said Monday that the nonprofit group "took legal ownership of the Academy and surrounding property, effective Jan. 30."

The acquisition hasn't really been in doubt since Trust officials announced six weeks ago they were acquiring the brick landmark at 400 E. Evergreen Blvd.

However, since that Dec. 16 event in the building's chapel, "an amazing amount of donors have fulfilled their commitments," True said.

Now, True said, the National Trust is looking for a similar response from another group of donors — people who want to support the renovation of the 142-year-old building.

"We have transitioned from an acquisition campaign to a renovation campaign," True said.

Pioneering nun Mother Joseph built the Academy in 1873 as a school and orphanage, and as the permanent home of the Sisters of Providence. Her legacy includes what now is Providence Health & Services.

As the new owner, the National Trust has done a bit of staff updating. It has retained the property manager who'd been hired by the Academy's previous owners, members of the Hidden family.

"We want the tenants to be comfortable," True said. "The tenants will be paying for the renovation of the building."

A member of its facilities staff has been assigned to the Academy, True said, so the Trust "can learn what we need to know."

At this point, the to-do list includes a new roof, brickwork, porch renovation and landscaping.

The official acquisition does not include the entire 6.9-acre site that borders the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. The Trust still is in the process of acquiring about 3½ acres of unimproved property; much of it is currently being used for parking.

"We will be looking at it in terms of long-term development. Maybe we'll even sell some of it" to pay for other aspects of the renovation, True said.

As commercial development on the site moves forward, Trust officials will look for what True called "complementary usage."

Restrictions will limit the number of potential commercial partners, but there are a range of businesses that reflect the mission of Mother Joseph, True said. They include health care, senior living and education.

The National Trust announced in May 2012 that it was undertaking a $10.6 million fundraising effort. However, the parties did not disclose the price tag on either the first-stage acquisition of the Academy and surrounding land or the entire 6.9-acre transaction.

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