It’s been for sale since 2009, when it was listed at $9,950,000. It was delisted, then reappeared in 2010 for $7,490,000. Today, the Children’s Day School announced on its website that it had purchased the cavernous ex-Lutheran church, aka 601 Dolores, aka “The Castle on the Park.” An hour ago, the real estate blog Curbed reported that the school is in contract to buy the property for $6.6 million.
The news came as a surprise. The building, purchased from the Lutherans by seismic retrofitting magnate Siamak Akhavan in 2007, was always listed as a single-family residence — though the interior photographs on the building’s website showed a space so cavernous that any furniture seemed to float like a tiny leaf on a sea of polished wood.
In an interview with Mission Loc@l last year, local preservationist Peter Lewis praised Akhavan for not chopping up the building into separate condos, while conceding that pretty much only Carlos Santana could afford to live there.
Mary De Nardo, director of communications for Children’s Day School, told Mission Loc@l that the school plans to build nine classrooms on the lower floor of the building and keep the nave as a common area. De Nardo said she was unsure whether the space would need to be rezoned to become a school rather than a single-family residence. “We have a team of experts on the board that are handling that.” She does not expect that the new classrooms will be ready by the start of school in September.
Children’s Day School is a private nonprofit preschool and K-8 that already owns a property at 333 Dolores. The school, which has been looking to expand for several years now, is currently used by 330 students, several teachers, six chickens and two sheep, Lucky and Jojo. The school was founded in 1983 as a preschool by a single person, then turned into a nonprofit by a group of parents in 1996. Those parents gradually expanded the school up to the 8th grade as their children grew.
De Nardo estimates that the additional space will allow the school to have about 450 students. 601 Dolores lacks any yard or outdoor space, but the acquisition will allow the school to remove several temporary bungalows on its current property, thereby expanding the school’s educational garden, which is a central part of the curriculum.
In other news, De Nardo added that Lucky and Jojo are due to be shorn this month. “The children will wash and card the wool,” she said excitedly, “and then do knitting projects all year.” You heard it here first, folks.