Why build a pub, brewery, and hotel in a historic school?

“Wouldn’t you want to drink in class?” asked Mike McMenamin from the bones of Bothell’s Anderson School. That kind of attitude is part of what has made Mike and his brother Brian successful publicans. The brothers are the namesake behind McMenamins, an iconic mixture of pubs, restaurants, and hotels with 45 properties in Oregon and eight in Washington.

Anderson School is the company’s first Seattle-area project. The renovation of the Bothell school property, which is more than five acres with approximately 100,000 square feet of building space, will feature a 72-room hotel; a family-friendly community pool; a market-fresh restaurant (in the school’s old cafeteria), a first-run movie theater (in part of the old gym), meeting, concert, and event space (which takes up the rest of the gym); and Anderson School Brewery, featuring a bar with games like shuffleboard (this will be in the school’s former wood shop).

Construction costs currently sit at $20 million, with more expenditures expected as the project continues to take shape.

The McMenamins are known for taking historic buildings and turning them into something new. What makes the perfect building for a project? “Unfortunately it seems like ones that are half rotten,” Mike joked. “It has to have the spaces for gatherings, ceiling heights for performance, but one of the main things we like to get involved in are places with historical value because that deep reservoir of history is the soul of the place,” he said.

Remodeling a school that was built in the 1930s presents a number of challenges. Unknown obstacles in the demo process such as hidden walls and mislabeled building plans have kept the construction team on its toes, but the most trying decision was what to do with the pool. Brian said that they had gone through pretty much every iteration of what a pool what be like before settling on the current plan – tropical landscape-themed saltwater pool, based on the Edgefield pool in Troutdale, Ore. Pool-use will be free for Bothell residents, and there will be a fee for non-residents.

The Anderson School project is at peak construction, with a target opening of Oct. 15. The hotel destination is expected to employ about 150 full- and part-time employees starting in May. The project is part of Bothell’s extensive long-term redevelopment plan that aims create a new City Hall and city center.