Edmonds Waterfront Center updates council on finances

Edmonds Waterfront Center CEO Daniel Johnson, top right, discusses fundraising efforts during Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council meeting.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has had “a significant impact” on Edmonds Waterfront Center operations and also on its bottom line. That was the word from Waterfront Center CEO Daniel Johnson, who provided on update on the organization’s finances for the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night.

The city has a vested interest in the Waterfront Center. It holds the ground lease for the property where the new facility stands, and the council in March 2020 approved a bank loan — in the form of a line of credit — with the city guaranteeing the loan by depositing $2 million into a certificate of deposit. That helped the waterfront center cover its construction costs.

The new building was constructed on the site of the former Edmonds Senior Center. The vision for the new facility has always been to offer intergenerational programming, although some of those plans have stalled due to the pandemic. COVID-19 gathering restrictions forced the center to shift from in-person programs to home-delivered senior meals and online programs. A tech program was initiated to help members connnect to the Zoom platform. The center also hosted five vaccine pop-up clinics.

The center received its certificate of occupancy for the new building in January 2021 and has been offering a mix of online and in-person programming, although the latter has slowed due to the recent surge in COVID cases. A major focus has been on health and wellness programs for seniors, from nutrition to exercise to footcare to memory loss.

Addressing food insecurity is also a major initiative for the Waterfront Center, and the Potlatch Bistro — operated by Edmonds restaurateur Shubert Ho — is designed to function as a community café: Seniors and others who qualify for subsidized food service will pay a lower rate, while others will pay market rate. The bistro recently moved from table to counter service, to address some of the challenges associated with launching the community café model “during a pandemic,” Johnson said.

Johnson then shifted to highlight the Waterfront Center’s ongoing capital campaign, noting the goal is to raise $16.75 million. So far, the center has raised $15.25 million, with $1.5 million needed to close the gap.

Regarding the Waterfront Center’s construction loan, “we negotiated with the lender that we would pay interest-only payments of $4,000 a month for this last year,” Johnson said, adding that in October 2021 the center will begin making principal and interest payments of $30,000 monthly. The strategy is to maintain 12 months of payments in the bank through additional fundraising.

“We will not stop until we raise the last dollar,” Johnson told the council.

The Waterfront Center ended 2020 with a $79,000 deficit as it worked to complete building construction and at the same time provide free senior meals and online classes. This was also at a time when the center couldn’t generate rental revenue due to the pandemic.

As of the end of June 2021, the center had a $14,000 surplus, thanks to a federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan, revenue from its popular thrift store and a successful virtual fundraising effort. The community café is currently operating at a loss of $103,000, “which we will make up through the success of the thrift store and then additional fundraising for the lunch program,” Johnson said.

In other business, the council also had a lengthy discussion about next steps for a recommended list of nonprofits to receive grant awards through the Edmonds Rescue Plan Fund. The money comes from nearly $11.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds being allocated to Edmonds for COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Under the provisions approved by the city council in July, seven of the applications were for amounts of $20,000 or less, which may be approved by Mayor Mike Nelson. Those awards were as follows:

Cascade Symphony $19,000
DeMiero Jazz Festival $18,000
Edmonds Boys & Girls Club $18,000
Sculptors Workshop $8,000
Sno-King Youth Club $15,000
Steel Magic Northwest $14,000
West Edmonds Cooperative Preschool $8,000
TOTAL $100,000

The remaining eight applications are available for city council review and consideration, and include:

Art Start Northwest $50,000
Cascadia Art Museum $50,000
Edmonds Center for the Arts $50,000
Edmonds Driftwood Players $50,000
Edmonds Waterfront Center $50,000
Olympic Ballet Theatre $45,000
Phoenix Theater $27,500
Rotary Club of Edmonds $30,000
TOTAL $352,500

Councilmembers generally agreed with the allocations, which are scheduled for further discusssion and final approval during the Sept. 21 meeting.

In addition, the council approved a proposal by Vivian Olson to ask the Edmonds Planning Board and Architectural Design Board to study the incorporation of green space into future discussions about multi-family design standards.

And it heard a proclamation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Month followed by a presentation from the Snohomish Health District on youth suicide.

— By Teresa Wippel

  1. I wasn’t sure about the The Edmonds Water Front center…But after watching the council meeting on zoom last night I think Daniel did a good job explaining. I like the idea that this major structure is family member ship too. I don’t have one but I still think its good to look towards the future. The presentation made me feel as this will be a forever thing. I like forever things. It felt like community unity.
    I do agree that with the pandemic extreme caution should be taken for awhile.

    I also want to say that I thought the City Council did an excellent job last night. Every single one of them. For me it was the best and most unified and polite all I want to see… so way to go City Council… Mayor Good job. Deb

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