EVERETT – A Christian college plans to move from its suburban Issaquah complex to downtown Everett.
Trinity Lutheran College is poised to purchase two properties along Colby Avenue – including the former home of Henry Cogswell College – and could move its operations to the new campus by fall 2009.
“Our students and prospective students wanted to be in the city. They wanted convenient transportation and access to cool stuff,” Trinity President John Stamm said. “When all was said and done, Everett best met our relocation criteria.”
The 125-student college is banking on its more varied course offerings to succeed where two other small private schools have failed.
Henry Cogswell College enrolled 150 students when it closed last year amid dwindling interest in its engineering, business and digital arts programs.
Neighboring Ashmead College, a private career school with 193 students studying massage therapy and fitness, plans to close in December.
“We have a greater array of academic programs than those other two institutions,” Stamm said.
Trinity recently expanded its majors to include communications, psychology and social work. Next fall, it plans to add elementary education and business.
Stamm said he expects the college to finalize the purchase of the former Cogswell building at the corner of Wall Street and Colby Avenue by early April.
The college also has made an offer on the three-story Pacific &Colby Building, owned by George Drumheller III and his brother, Dr. Glenn Drumheller, whose otolaryngology practice is in the building.
Purchase of that parcel, which also includes an expansive parking lot, could close within 90 days, Stamm said.
In all, the college would hold about three-quarters of the block bordered by Wall Street and Colby, Pacific and Hoyt avenues.
Trinity plans to build a chapel and commons building atop one of the parking lots between the two existing buildings.
If things proceed smoothly, construction on the new building and renovations to the existing buildings could start as early as this summer, Stamm said.
Money for the relocation comes from the $23.5 million sale of Trinity’s current campus to The City Church of Kirkland.
College leaders also are studying the feasibility of a capital campaign to further expand the campus. Long-term hopes call for a fourth building for student services with underground parking adjacent to the Imagine Children’s Museum along Hoyt Avenue.
Enrollment at the college has gone up and down over the years, Stamm said.
College leaders believe offering more courses, together with an urban location, will help shift the trend upward.
The experience of another Christian college that calls Everett home shows it may still take time.
The 57-year-old Puget Sound Christian College moved downtown from the Edmonds area three years ago. It saw enrollment dip at first and then level out. Enrollment is now about 120 students, dean Mark Krause said.
Still, Krause called it a transition period and still expects enrollment to rise because of the shift.
The college’s reasons for relocating echo those of Trinity.
“We wanted more of an urban, city-based campus than a suburban campus. We think it gives our students more valid skills for life, rather than being isolated for their college experience,” Krause said.
The two Christian colleges have talked to each other about Trinity’s move and hope to collaborate as a result of being closer to each other – for example, they might pool students for smaller classes they couldn’t offer on their own, Krause added.
“I think they’re quite a different college in a lot of ways, and we look forward to being able to work with them in some cooperative ways,” Krause said. “We welcome them coming.”
Reporter Melissa Slager: 425-339-3465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some facts about Trinity Lutheran College: