News

Serenity House’s future is in Sequim

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Serenity House of Clallam County leaders say the decision to sell their property at 215 N. Sequim Ave. to the City of Sequim doesn’t mean they are leaving town. Kathy Wahto, executive director of Serenity House, said the last thing the board of directors wants to do is leave the area after the sale.

 

“The board’s priority is finding a retail space because it’s critical for our long-term financial sustainability,” Wahto said. “It’s an absolute condition.”

 

City councilors agreed on Monday, Sept. 12, to purchase the 22,000-square-foot property, which includes the thrift store and 10-unit apartment building, for a future city hall and police station development.

 

Wahto said the thrift stores in Sequim and Port Angeles allow them to start new projects, match grant funding and continue offering services for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.

 

Brando Blore, president of the board, said they certainly want to relocate and improve upon their temporary and emergency shelter options.

 

He said they’ve begun looking at new sites for both a thrift store and apartments, but he wouldn’t say where.

 

The city agreed to terms to lease the building back for three years at $1,500 a month to Serenity House to give it time to find new facilities.

 

Blore said Serenity House’s mission is to eliminate homelessness in Clallam County. He feels the deal potentially allows them to partner with the city to find ways to develop housing for people who need it.

 

“We have nothing in writing nor have discussed it, but we believe that we want to work together and can accomplish both of our goals,” Blore said.

 

Wahto said she got the sense that the last thing the city wants to do is negatively impact low-income people.

 

Serenity House holds a mortgage of about $400,000 on the Sequim property, Blore estimates. Once the sale is complete, the net proceeds will pay off the mortgage.

 

Blore and Wahto said Serenity House initially didn’t intend to sell and that city staff sought them out.

“We would not have put it up for sale if the city had not approached us,” Blore said.

 

The two entities discussed buying/selling options privately for about a year.

 

Blore said it was an opportunity for both sides and that there were benefits for Serenity House and the whole city if a new city hall were built.

 

Once the purchase goes through, Serenity House intends to begin a more active search in relocating.

 

Blore recommends people with ideas or space call him at 808-0970 or Kathy Wahto at 452-7224.

 

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