What’s next for Hawthorne Hall?

Many options for current Boys & Girls Club building
By Brandon Gustafson | Sep 12, 2018

The question of what to do with the Boys & Girls Club building on 2nd Street, also known as Hawthorne Hall, was a key topic of discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 4, Mukilteo City Council meeting.

Planning manager David Osaki gave a presentation to the council regarding possible next steps for the building, which has been in use since the 1920s.

“It’s a 50-year lease. The lease that the Boys & Girls Club currently operates under was executed in 1986, and the lease is for $1 per year for providing recreation-types of facilities and uses to the community,” he said.

Osaki said he’d had conversations with some representatives from the Boys & Girls Club regarding whether they had plans to use the current building after they move into the new facility on 47th Place West. They told him he would need to speak with their executive director, who Osaki was unable to contact before the Sept. 4 meeting.

During a phone conversation with The Beacon last Wednesday, Sept. 5, Mike Neumeister, an area director for the Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club, said they’re still determining what to do with Hawthorne Hall.

“We may use the gym for sports leagues, but I think we’re still finalizing what to do with it,” he said. “The initial thought was to use it for volleyball and basketball.”

At the Sept. 4 meeting, Osaki said the building is on Mukilteo’s Register of Historic Places as of 1993.

In order to remove and/or demolish a building on that list, it is required that the city’s Historic Commission review demolition requests, according to the city’s municipal code.

The problem? The Historic Commission is no longer active.

The city would need to either establish a commission again, assign the responsibilities of the Historic Commission to an existing commission, or amend the city’s municipal code, in the event that they choose to demolish the building.

Osaki said there is a deed restriction on the property that allows the original seller of the property, a group called “Royal Neighbors,” to reserve the right to use the property for meetings.

Osaki said they couldn’t find if the group still exists, and also said the deed restriction only applies if the city has ownership of the building, but not if there’s a new owner.

The city did public outreach with members of the Mukilteo Historical Society and seniors in early 2017.  They recommended not tearing the building down, and making it available for community use instead.

Osaki said some options are using the building as a “satellite station” for members of the Mukilteo Police Department, having a senior center, making it a recreational center, or making it mixed-use with youth and/or senior uses during the day, and an adult recreation center in the evening.

Another route the city could go is selling or leasing out the building to another group, and Osaki said there are groups interested in Hawthorne Hall.

Osaki found emails from Blue Royals Volleyball and Jericho Bridge Church from 2017 when they showed interest in either purchasing or leasing Hawthorne Hall, and said he recently contacted both groups and that they are still interested.

A 2017 commercial broker suggested marketing the property at $790,000, which would provide one-time revenue for the city.

If the city retained the building, there would need to be some refurbishment, which they estimated would cost between $250,000 and $500,000, Osaki said.

Other potential costs for the city would be staff costs if the city chose to use the building as a facility like a senior center or as a police satellite station, which could range from $100,000 to $150,000.

Osaki said they estimate it would cost roughly $70,000 to maintain the building yearly, but did note the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club told him they pay roughly $36,000 on maintenance annually.

Another option would be to board up and secure the property for the time being, which Osaki estimated would cost roughly $5,000.

Mukilteo’s Planning and Community Development staff wasn’t able to start on community outreach like they’d planned in 2017, but Osaki said they want to start reaching out to different groups and organizations, and that they hope to get a better idea of potential building uses as well as potential renovation, maintenance, and operating costs.

Councilmember Scott Whelpley said he’d talked to Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club director Chuck Davis about the current building, and Davis asked Whelpley whether it would be a good idea to keep using Hawthorne Hall as a secondary building.

Whelpley said this whole process started when the Boys & Girls Club approached the city about selling the current building and retaining the proceeds to go towards the new facility, but the city elected to give the club $500,000 and retain the building.

Whelpley said he told Davis that part of the reason they retained the building was so they would essentially be reimbursed for the money they gave them by either selling it or choosing to use it for something else.

Whelpley felt the city isn’t in a position to keep the facility due to the high cost of maintenance and refurbishment, and that the city should focus on groups that are interested in purchasing the building.

“I would love to keep the facility, but we don’t have the money,” Whelpley said.

Council Vice President Christine Cook said she felt uneasy about selling the building.

“I’m not comfortable using the sale of a historic piece of property for any sort of filling in of the budget or making our operations work for the budget,” she said. “To me, that’s a one-time thing, and that’s not a sustainable way of handling our finances.

“So if anyone was thinking of selling this and using the money to help fill our budget, I just don’t really see that as a very sustainable or very responsible way to look at it, but I do understand the impacts of the maintenance and the renovations that would occur if we maintain the property.”

Council President Steve Schmalz said he wants to speak with representatives from the Boys & Girls Club to learn what intentions, if any, they have for the Hawthorne Hall facility.

 

 

 

 

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