Matt Ober plays with his daughter Hazara Ober on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Beach in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Matt Ober plays with his daughter Hazara Ober on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Beach in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Edmonds looks to transform a prime piece of waterfront

After the Senior Center breaks ground on a new building, the city could complete a beach walkway.

EDMONDS — The plan for the waterfront would knit this city together in so many new ways.

In some respects, it already has.

The project would do more than just replace the aging Edmonds Senior Center on a prime piece of beachfront. It aims to draw people young and old alike to a welcoming community hub with stunning views.

“I think people will just love it,” said Farrell Fleming, the senior center’s executive director. “The new building will invite people in. They’ll say, ‘I better go take a look at that.’ I think there will be literally people who will come in off the street.”

They’ll have a new name, too: the Edmonds Waterfront Center.

The two-story building, at about 26,000 square feet, would replace the drab, blocky structure at 220 Railroad Ave. that the nonprofit senior center has used since the 1960s. Westward-facing windows would look toward the ferry terminal, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

The Edmonds Senior Center hopes to break ground on a new $16 million waterfront building this summer.

The Edmonds Senior Center hopes to break ground on a new $16 million waterfront building this summer.

“The boomers who want nothing to do with the senior center will love the waterfront center,” Fleming said.

They hope to break ground in early July.

The City Council gave its blessing to the proposal in April.

If things move ahead on schedule, they would move into the new digs by the end of July 2020.

First, a few land-use decisions await.

The city’s Architectural Design Board has scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to discuss the project. The board’s recommendation will go to the city hearing examiner, who has scheduled a public hearing May 23.

The senior center has moved all but one of its more than 70 programs to 15 locations, such as area churches, where they’ll continue remotely for the next year or so. Administrative staff and the daily lunch program expect to move after June 7.

“We really dispersed the programs for the year,” Fleming said.

The remnants of pilings at Olympic Beach on Sunday in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The remnants of pilings at Olympic Beach on Sunday in Edmonds. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The work on the building shouldn’t impose on anybody’s enjoyment of the beach south of the ferry terminal, said Jim Bray, a senior project manager with contractor W.G. Clark Construction of Seattle.

While the west side of the building will feature glass, the east side will have sound-dampening materials to block out the railroad tracks to the east.

“When those trains go by, they can be quite loud,” Bray said. “At the senior center, we’re working with people who might have compromised hearing.”

Bray said his team at W.G. Clark was proud to take on the project.

“This is unique for two reasons,” he said. “One, this building being a senior center during the week and shared with the city on evenings and weekends. Also, the location. It’s unusual to have a community-type building right on the waterfront. This location is exceptional.”

The senior center has a 40-year ground lease for the site, which the city owns.

The new glass, wood and stone building won’t be the only transformation there.

The city of Edmonds is taking on a second phase of work, also part of the upcoming decisions by the design board and hearing examiner.

The city of Edmonds has plans to complete a missing link in a beach walkway and make environmental improvements along the waterfront. (Daniel Johnson)

The city of Edmonds has plans to complete a missing link in a beach walkway and make environmental improvements along the waterfront. (Daniel Johnson)

The city plans to fill in a missing segment of walkway south of the ferry terminal and restore the beach below.

Among other steps, contractors would remove creosote logs on the parking lot bulkhead. There will be huge benefits for people out for a stroll as well as the natural environment, said Carrie Hite, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services director.

“We do have a case for forage fish in front of that area,” Hite said. “That is an area where forage fish spawn. Forage fish are what feed the salmon, and salmon are what feed the orcas.”

An over-water path would fill in a gap in the Edmonds Marine Walkway on the beach side of the Ebb Tide condos, south of the senior center.

The city also plans to reconfigure a parking lot and add landscaping to filter stormwater before it drains toward the Sound. The lot would remain open to anyone, first come, first serve.

The budget for the city project is $4.2 million, Hite said, including $1.8 million for the walkway, $1.5 million for parking and $300,000 for improvements along Railroad Avenue. State and county grants are helping cover the city’s part of the project, along with real-estate excise taxes and park-impact fees.

The Edmonds beachfront could see a major makeover with a connection as part of development plans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Edmonds beachfront could see a major makeover with a connection as part of development plans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“It’s a really cool project. It’s a community driven project as well, which is nice,” Hite said. “Our goal is to start this year. The culmination would be June or July of 2020.”

Fundraising for the senior center’s new home is a story unto itself.

So far, the nonprofit has raised $13 million toward its $16 million goal, said Daniel Johnson, the center’s capital campaign director.

A generous piece of that came from Rick Steves, the hometown travel guide celebrity, who put in $4 million. The state of Washington has provided an equal amount in grants.

John and Gloria Osberg donated $1 million. Other substantial contributions came from the D & G, Hazel Miller and Norcliffe foundations, as well as local businesses and individuals.

“We won’t stop until every dollar’s raised,” Johnson said. “It’s not easy to raise this kind of money. We’ve done well, but we still have a distance to go.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Architecture review meeting

Edmonds’ Architectural Design Board has scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to discuss the redevelopment of the Edmonds Senior Center site on the waterfront. The meeting is to take place in City Council Chambers, 250 Fifth Ave. N., Edmonds.

The board will send a recommendation to the city hearing examiner, who has scheduled a public hearing about the project on May 23.

More info: 425-771-0220

This story has been modified to correctly reflect the number of Edmonds Senior Center programs that have been temporarily moved.

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