Soaring land costs make it tough for nonprofit Hopelink to expand

Hopelink has served people with low incomes in Redmond since 1990, but rising property values almost prevented the nonprofit from building a new social services center there.

Earlier this year, however, the city gave Hopelink a 75-year lease on a 2-acre site where it plans to build the Redmond Integrated Service Center. Meghan Altimore, Hopelink’s vice president of community services, said construction is slated to start June 1 on the center at 8970 154th Ave. N.E.

The two-story, 28,000-square-foot center is expected to open in July 2018. It will provide services for Redmond residents, including energy assistance, financial assistance, adult education, financial education and help finding jobs.

It will also house Hopelink’s administrative offices and have an expanded food bank. The nonprofit’s center on Cleveland Street is leased space that will be vacated after the new one opens.

A RapidRide bus stop will serve the new facility.

The center initially will work with about 4,000 people a year, but Hopelink’s goal is 5,000 people a year by 2020.

Third Place Design Cooperative is the architect. OAC Services is providing project management and Abbott Construction in the contractor.

The $13 million project is funded by a $3.4 million grant from the Washington Department of Commerce, and by Hopelink’s capital campaign. Donors include individuals, businesses and foundations.

Hopelink will pay $10 a year to lease the site, with an option to renew, Altimore said. She said this is comparable to lease terms the city gave Providence John Gabriel House, a senior living facility, on another property the city owns.

Hopelink has about 270 employees, 4,000 volunteers and an annual budget of $61 million. Altimore said it serves about 64,000 people a year in King and Snohomish counties.

The nonprofit was started in 1971 when some laid-off Boeing workers helped each other find jobs. Services were added to help people become more stable and skilled.

Hopelink is based in Redmond, and has centers in Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline and Sno-Valley/Carnation. It provides transportation services in King and Snohomish counties, and rents apartments to homeless families in Duvall, Redmond and Bellevue at below-market rates.

There are 86,000 people living in poverty in north and east King County, Altimore said, based on the American Community Survey of 2014, an adjunct to the 2010 census.

Hopelink also works to help the general public understand poverty in this area, she said. “People believe that poverty is only in Seattle and South King County — that everyone in east and north King County is rich.”

Altimore said Hopelink began looking for a site in Redmond in 2013, assisted by Steve Schwartz at JLL, who she said understands the issues nonprofits face and did exhaustive searches.

Three sites met Hopelink’s needs. The nonprofit was outbid on two of the sites, and the third would have been too costly to build on given a high water table and location, Altimore said.

“There were half a dozen more that we couldn’t even try to compete (for) because of the prices,” she said.

Hopelink started looking outside Redmond, before getting a lease with the city.

Altimore said she had no idea how difficult it would be to find an affordable site.

“Our next target is the Kirkland-Woodinville-Bothell area, and so now we know how hard it is going to be there,” she said. “It’s just the market.”

Hopelink Integrated Service Center


Third Place Design Co-operative


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