After four years of persistence and hard work, we celebrated the groundbreaking of our first property in Seattle’s University District. This would not have been possible without the equally-determined members of University Christian Church (UCC): it was this congregation that sold the property (a parking lot and adjacent land across the street from the church) to us below-market rate and made this a reality.
75 supporters came together in UCC’s lounge to acknowledge the significance of the day and to celebrate what’s to come. Bellwether’s Chair Elect, Harry Matsumoto, welcomed all and expressed the excitement he – and the Bellwether team felt – to be able to kick-off construction. Mr. Matsumoto was followed by UCC’s Reverend Dr. Adam Harmon who led a prayer of thanks. Speakers included Bellwether’s Director of Real Estate Development, Susan Boyd, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and church member/spokesperson, Marsha Tolon.
“This building, Arbora Court, will be the largest that Bellwether has ever constructed. 133 units, including many family-sized units and large indoor and outdoor community and play spaces,” said Susan Boyd. Ms. Boyd continued, “Of course [we] don’t get to this point in a development without an enormous amount of support.” This project would not be possible “without the vision and commitment of this wonderful faith community.”
Mayor Murray expressed that, “homelessness is an international crisis”. He then continued, “it’s important to remember that good things are happening to change this crisis. Arbora [Court] is one of those things.”
Arbora Court will provide safe, affordable homes and will support families transitioning out of homelessness. This mattered to University Christian Church. Marsha Tolon shared some of the story of how the Church came to the decision to dedicate its property for this purpose. “The early realization of this dream started in 1961. The congregation’s vision was to build affordable housing in the University District to support our most vulnerable in this community.” In March 2018 this vision will be realized.
The celebration closed with a symbolic “groundbreaking”. Guests wrote their wishes for the people who will find a home at Arbora Court on a paper leaf and attached it to an art installation. This artwork will be placed in the building lobby to welcome new residents to their homes.