New life for historic building - old Richmond Beach Library to house Wonderland Developmental Center

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The old Richmond Beach Library
Photo courtesy Keith McGlashan

By Diane Hettrick

The old Richmond Beach Library building at 2402 NW 195th Place was constructed in 1911 and opened its doors in 1912 - one of the oldest libraries in King County.

The building served the Richmond Beach community until 2001 when the library moved to a new building in the Richmond Beach Community Park where it continues to thrive.

The old building has gone through several incarnations in the past 15 years - sometimes a business, and sometimes vacant. Previous owners remodeled and upgraded the building for a commercial space and put it up for sale.

In the meantime, Shoreline Public Schools was experiencing rapid population growth and needed to reclaim buildings which had been used as rentals.

North City Elementary had been home to four private preschools (see previous article) and the not-for-profit Wonderland Developmental Center. All were informed that the District needed the building and they would need to find new homes.

All were looking for similar space at the same time.

"We worked together," said Mary Kirchoff, Executive Director of Wonderland Developmental Center. Representatives from each group met weekly to update each other on their space search and make sure they weren't competing with each other.

Wonderland had particular space needs. They had to have commercial space because their primary need was for administrative space for the staff and therapists. They also hoped for space for their baby / parent sessions. They were absolutely determined to remain in Shoreline.

"Although we serve four school districts, Shoreline is our biggest school district. We wanted to stay rooted here."

They did have an advantage over the preschools in that, through increased recent enrollment, generous donors, and other good fortune, they found the resources to purchase a property for the first time in Wonderland’s 47-year history.

Said realtor McGlashan, "They started looking at the old library building and at first didn’t see it as a fit. They would have liked to have been closer to main arterials such as Aurora, but of course property values to purchase or rent in those locations were prohibitive. The more they looked at the Richmond Beach property the more they saw the potential."

“However,” continued McGlashan, “there was some question about whether it was still zoned commercial as it had not housed a business for over a year. Fortunately, once a building is designated as a library, it never loses its commercial nonconforming use designation, so that hurdle was cleared.”

"At first," said Kirchoff, "we wondered about being so far from the center of Shoreline, but the site is easy to find, close to businesses and restaurants, and along two bus lines.
"The Richmond Beach community has been extremely warm and welcoming, and really made us feel like part of the neighborhood. 
"Since our mission is to support developmentally delayed and disabled children and their families, we’re thrilled to have landed on our feet in an historic place built for learning."

Now the building will serve the community once again.

Wonderland Developmental Center is a non-profit dedicated to serving children ages birth to three years with developmental delays and disabilities.

They have a team of occupational, physical, and speech therapists, special educators, mental health professionals, and family resources coordinators who work with families in their homes and schools.

Wonderland plans to do minor remodeling to the interior of the building, adding an ADA restroom on the first floor and converting the semi-kitchen to an actual kitchen for staff. The exterior is being repainted and the Wonderland sign installed.

"Later this summer we will add an ADA entrance in the front,” said Kirchoff, “and the Broadview Garden Club has already generously begun to clear away some of the overgrown foliage to expose beautiful gardens, as well as places to park."

Wonderland will occupy the space by late August.


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