On May 21, two representatives from Ravenna-Bryant Community Association’s (RBCA) board and three neighbors of Children’s Home Society of Washington (CSHW) met with CHSW President Sharon Osborne, Vice President of Administration/Chief Financial Officer Heather Ritts and two brokers from the real estate firm handling the sale, Heartland, to discuss the sale of the 3.7-acre property on 65th Street between 32nd and 34th Avenue Northeast.
CHSW, a 115 year-old organization, aims to “develop healthy children, create strong families, build engaged communities, and speak and advocate for children.” Their core program services have shifted slightly in recent years reflecting changing needs among the children and families they serve. As Osborne explained, they have moved away from running residential facilities such as those located on the Ravenna property, and now focus more on in-home services.
CHSW retained Heartland more than five years ago to help review the organization’s overall real estate, including the Ravenna site. However, the organization still provided residential services on 65th Street site, and in addition to the “economic tsunami” of 2008, it didn’t make sense for them to sell any of their properties at the bottom of the market. Also, CHSW has a strong connection to the site, which has lasted more than 100 years, and the agency wanted to retain the property because of its historical significance. However, developers expressed strong interest in buying the site as the economy turned and the residential program closed in 2010, so they have decided to explore the possibility of a sale. The deadline to submit offers was May 17.
During the meeting, Osborne explained that CHSW consists of two nonprofits; the first runs programs and services, and a second one manages their real estate and other assets. CHSW has a total of seven properties across Washington state. Both of these 501c3s have boards, and both of these boards will need to review offers on the property before they can make a final decision regarding a sale. The boards meet quarterly and “don’t sit on things for very long.” It’s anticipated that a decision in consideration of the offers would be made relatively soon.
The CHSW made it clear that they are not excited to be selling this location, and they will be sad to go. However, it does not make sense for them to keep such a valuable piece of property that they are not using fully, especially when the proceeds from a sale such as this could enable them to provide services for the children and families whom they serve for many years to come. They have assured us that they will let us know if and when an offer goes under contract as soon as they know. We will, in turn, let the community know.