The Seattle School Board voted 5-2 Wednesday night to approve a bid from First AME Church to build a community center at the vacant Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school in Seattle’s Madison Valley.

The Seattle School Board voted 5-2 Wednesday night to approve a bid from First AME Church to build a community center at the vacant Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school in Seattle’s Madison Valley.

The board voted in line with a staff recommendation favoring the church over other proposals, including one from the private Bush School, which was the highest bidder. Both staff and board members said that First AME deserved the property because of its long-standing commitment to community service.

The church bid $2.4 million, which it intends to get from a state grant, to buy the site. Bush was willing to pay $3 million in cash for the property and planned to tear down the school to build athletic fields.

Voting against First AME were Kay Smith-Blum and Harium Martin-Morris. Smith-Blum had proposed an amendment asking to postpone a decision until December, but that was shot down. Martin-Morris proposed that the board award the bid to another community group, the Citizens for a Community Center at Martin Luther King Jr., but that, too, was denied.