Together Center in downtown Redmond looking to fill empty space
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
December 1, 2011 · 3:43 PM
For the first time since it opened in 1990, the Together Center in downtown Redmond is in search of tenants to occupy a large space on its three-building campus at 16225 N.E. 87th St.
The multi-tenant nonprofit center has about 7,200 square feet available, which was previously occupied by Hopelink. Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said they have had smaller spaces open in the past, but this is the first time they've had an opening of this size.
"It hasn't happened in our 20 years," she said.
The Together Center had been home to Hopelink's administrative offices and Redmond Emergency Services Center — including a food bank — until the human services agency moved its operations elsewhere. Administrative offices vacated at the end of July and relocated to 10675 Willows Rd. N.E., Building B, Suite 275, while the emergency services center moved to 16725 Cleveland St. in early October.
Mauk said they were not happy that Hopelink and the food bank moved, "but they really needed more space … We are sorry they are off our campus." She added that the Together Center will still partner and work with Hopelink and the food bank.
The space breakdown includes a 6,678 square-foot space that was previously the food bank and other office space as well as a smaller 530 square-foot office space that had been Hopelink's human resources office.
MOVING AND EXPANDING FROM WITHIN
Mauk said these openings have prompted potential movement among the center's 18 or so agencies, some of which would like to expand or move locations within the center, but there is still space for more tenants. She said about half of the former food bank space may become occupied by current tenants. These agencies would vacate their current locations, which would then become available. Mauk said most of these potential moves are still in the discussion stage and nothing has been finalized.
HealthPoint Community Health Centers, an agency that provides medical and dental care for patients throughout King County who are uninsured or uninsured at a reduced rate, currently has medical and dental clinics onsite and is one agency that would like to expand.
Marketing and community relations manager Diana Olsen said their medical clinic currently occupies about 4,900 square feet and they would like to add six exam rooms for total of about 8,200 square feet. This would allow HealthPoint to see 2,000 more patients per year.
The agency's dental clinic currently occupies about 2,400 square feet and Olsen said they hope to add two dental chairs for one new dental hygienist and dental assistant for an additional 500 square feet. This expansion would also prompt an office reconfiguration to make it more user friendly and would result in 1,100 new patients.
"Our continued day-to-day challenge is access … It can be difficult for people with little or no resources to see a doctor," she said. "Our phone lines, they're ringing off the hook."
The Together Center will also take over about 270 square feet of newly available space to expand its "front-door" services, but Mauk said this is not part of the 7,200 square feet still available. She added that the center's expansion will address what they think the front lobby needs such as more private cubicles for the center's free public phones, interpreter services, homeless advocates and public health representatives.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
One of Hopelink's old administrative offices already has a new tenant.
The Lake Washington School District's (LWSD) Transition Academy moved into the agency's former finance office — which is 1,568 square feet but not part of the space that is still available — when it was vacated last summer.
The school is a community-based program for young adults 18-21 with developmental disabilities, preparing them for life. The Transition Academy was previously located on Cleveland Street in downtown Redmond and coordinator Mark Tornquist said with student safety and security a top priority for them, being on a busy street was a great concern. Their new location is more ideal as it does not have as much traffic, he explained.
This is the first time the Together Center has had a school on its campus and Tornquist said they have been welcomed with open arms even though they are not a nonprofit like the other agencies.
"We're a lot like neighbors," he said. "That's the part I really like."
Tornquist added that they are looking into the process of becoming a nonprofit.
Since the students arrived on campus this fall, they have pitched in and helped throughout the center with tasks such as maintaing onsite kiosks and conference rooms, shredding documents (which would cost other agencies time and staff resources) and directing clients around the center.
In return, the students receive volunteer and internship hours they can use when creating a resume for potential employers.
Additionally, Tornquist said their rent is below the market rate so LWSD is also saving money.
Mauk said because all of the Together Center's agencies are nonprofits, offering a lower rent is part of their policy and mission.
ADDRESSING A VARIETY OF NEEDS
Tornquist said one of the great things about their new location is being part of a true community.
"I think the name says it all: together," he said.
A big part of this community is helping each other and Tornquist said having so many resources in one area has been beneficial. He said one of his students is even receiving services from another agency now as it is more conveniently located than where she was previously going.
Olsen agreed that working with other community partners is very important. She said one of HealthPoint's goals is to provide comprehensive services to their patients and being part of the Together Center helps immensely. A one-stop center for services is convenient for people who may not have the time or transportation to go around to different locations for different services.
"I feel confident in saying (being at the Together Center is) a lifesaver for some of our patients," she said.
While the campus offers a number of services, Mauk said they would like to offer as many direct services as possible — rather than have space occupied by administrative offices — and there are some areas in which they are lacking.
When they learned Hopelink was leaving, she said they considered a homeless shelter, but they quickly realized this was not a feasible option.
Together Center staff conducted a study and spoke with about 20 nonprofits and agencies in the community to see what needed to be addressed. Mauk said items at the top of the list include legal services, job readiness, elderly care, drop-in child care and immigrant and refugee resources.
"We're optimistic that we'll find a real good fit," Mauk said.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.