Out with the old ... Senior Center demo makes way for Edmonds Waterfront Center

By Brian Soergel | Jul 11, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel The demolition of the Edmonds Senior Center begins

There were plenty of smiling faces and celebratory clapping Monday, July 1, as a John Deere excavator smashed through the wall of the old Edmonds Senior Center thrift store, beginning the demolition of the past-its-prime waterfront icon feeling all of its 50-plus years.

Donors and supporters took in the action from Re-Juiced Studio’s third-floor deck at the next door Waterfront Park building. A public groundbreaking was held Tuesday, July 9.

The senior center will be replaced by the all-ages Edmonds Waterfront Center.

“This is probably the most meaningful experience I've ever had in my life,” said Bob Rinehart, president of the Senior Center board of directors.

“This is doing something for our community, for our seniors. People tell us about personal experiences they've had with their parents at the center, while saying at some point that they were going to come to the center.”

Rinehart also pointed out that the Waterfront Center, unlike other gathering places in the city, such as the Edmonds Center for the Arts and Cascadia Art Museum, will be built new from the ground up.

“People around the country are struggling about what they’re going to do with their senior centers,” he said. “And the way to do it is to create a community center. We’re going to have Frances Anderson Center west from about 4 in the afternoon until the end of the evening. So we're going to start out multigenerational, and the generations will fuse very quickly.”

ETA: Summer 2020

WG Clark Construction is the general contractor on the new center.

Farrell Fleming, Senior Center executive director, said the contractor estimates a construction schedule of 12 to 13 months. Fleming expects the Waterfront Center to open late summer 2020.

Workers will also be dismantling the bulkhead at the west end of the parking lot, helping restore the beach to its natural habitat.

Here is a more detailed timeline, from Waterfront Center Capital Campaign Director Daniel Johnson:

  • Hazardous material abatement: July 10-12
  • Demo and remove structure: July 10-30
  • Earthwork (7 days): Aug. 8
  • Drill and pour auger cast piles: Aug. 8-Sept. 18

According to Gary Haakenson, former Edmonds mayor and now Waterfront Center capital campaign co-chair, $13 million of the $16 million cost has been raised, through government grants and donations, including a substantial amount from local travel expert Rick Steves.

“For the 11 years that I was mayor, we were constantly trying to make that building still stand up and stay together,” Haakenson said. “I've been gone eight years now, and they've been continuing the process. So the building was way past its time.”

Haakenson said he was sold on the Waterfront Center’s process when Fleming asked him to join the board, explaining to him the process of moving from the senior center concept.

“What you're doing is, you're isolating seniors with themselves,” Haakenson said. “This new multigenerational building is going to have seniors, young people, young adults, everybody mixing together. That's better for everybody.”

“Big, heavy lift”

The Senior Center – responsible for raising funds for the Waterfront Center – has a lease with the City of Edmonds, which owns the site. City Councilmembers in December, though, agreed to pay for the full cost – $1.66 million – of a new parking lot and frontage improvements. Under a previous agreement, a 40-year contract signed in 2015, the costs were to be split in half.

Park and Recreation Director Carrie Hite has been City’s staff liaison for the project.

“It's amazing to see the demolition actually happening,” said Hite, in charge of the waterfront redevelopment parking lot and frontage improvements around the senior center. “It’s taken a big, heavy lift from a lot of people – a huge team to put this together. It’s so nice to see that day come where it's coming down.”

Among those in attendance for the first demolition July 1 were U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) from Edmonds, and her mother, Rose Cantwell.

“It’s been a long time,” said Rose Cantwell, a capital campaign co-chair along with Haakenson and Councilmember Diane Buckshnis, the latter also present on July 1. “The seniors are presenting this gift to the whole community.”

Said Maria Cantwell: “I’m so proud of everybody in the community to make this a priority and get it done. It’s just going to be so exciting to have a facility like this on the waterfront.”

Temporary accommodations

While the Waterfront Center is being constructed, the Senior Center continues to provide more than 70 programs at 15 locations in the area.

You can find a complete guide at edmondssc.org.

You can also pick up the information in a brochure available at the Senior Center’s temporary office at Holy Trinity Church, 657 Daley St.

Among the many temporary sites are City Hall, Edmonds Library, Edmonds Church of God, Holy Rosary Church, My Sisters Place, and the Frances Anderson Center.

Administrative offices are located inside The Hotel Group, with the entrance on Maple Street.


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