With Thursday groundbreaking, Lynnwood Neighborhood Center closer to reality

Representatives of local cities participating in the groundbreaking (L-R): Mountlake Terrace Councilmembers Steve Woodard and Erin Murray, Edmonds Mayor Mike Rosen, Edmonds Councilmember Chris Eck, Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell, Lynnwood Councilmember David Parshall, Edmonds Councilmember Susan Paine, Mountlake Terrace Councilmember Rory Paine-Donovan, Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyosko Matsumoto Wright, Edmonds Councilmembers Michelle Dotsch, Will Chen and Vivian Olson, Lynnwood Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby.

This story was updated to correct donation amounts and building square footage.

The dream of building a “one-stop hub” for human services in South Snohomish County moved a step closer to reality Thursday, as officials broke ground for the new Lynnwood Neighborhood Center just west of Lynnwood’s Trinity Lutheran Church.

Elected officials and staff joined representatives from Volunteers of America of West Washington (VOAWW) and Trinity Lutheran Church to ceremonially shovel dirt, marking the beginning of construction for the long-awaited project that will be located off 196th Street Southwest.

The Lynnwood Neighborhood Center (LNC) will provide a range of services, including medical, dental and mental health; youth development, community events and gatherings, refugee and immigrant assistance, a Boys & Girls Club, a technology lab and a ECEAP preschool. The neighborhood center is expected to serve about 20,000 community members annually. As of mid-2023, the VOAWW – which is partnering with Trinity Lutheran to develop the project – reported that the working budget for construction is at about $26.5 million, including contingencies, and will take about 13 months to complete.

Rick Steves takes participants on a virtual tour of the Lynnwod Neighborhood Center prior to the groundbreaking. (Photo by Teresa Wippel)

Edmonds resident and European travel guide Rick Steves became a tour guide for those attending the groundbreaking, leading the attendees toward the LNC future entrance, marked by signs in the dirt. He stood on a portable bench – which was moved along with him during the tour so he could see the crowd – and encouraged everyone to visualize what the neighborhood center will look like on the empty lot.

The LNC will be 28,000 square feet at the ground floor and 12,000 feet on the second floor, Steves said. He described It as a “one stop hub” for human services for everyone in South Snohomish County and nearby areas. “It will be a model and an inspiration for buildings and projects all over this county,” he said. “It will also complement the services that are already in our community – that are not redundant – to fill the gaps. There’s no other place like this within 20 miles.”

He added that the LNC will also provide free or subsidized spaces for nonprofits and similar organizations that cannot afford to rent gathering spaces. The building can seat 300 people and has movable walls that can divide the space into three zones, accommodating various group sizes. 

L-R: Lynnwood City Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby and Edmonds Mayor Mike Rosen listen to Rick Steves.

Steves then led everyone to the “center” of the future LNC just north of the entrance. “This spot here is where we’ll be calling ‘the piazza,’” he said, referring to a plaza in an Italian town. “It’s a multigenerational gathering place where everybody gets together – where we’re aware and know each other.”

Steves pointed to the north, where there will be a welcome center, a cafe and a gymnasium. “I’m gonna hang out at the cafe and feel the energy of this place,” he said.

Future site of the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center.
An artist’s rendering of the completed project.

After Steves concluded his tour, mayors and councilmembers from Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace; federal, state and Snohomish County officials; and members of the church and VOAWW joined staff from the Architecture Resource Collaborative (ARC) and GLY contractors for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“I’m pretty excited to have other councils participate, as well as the county,” said Mountlake Terrace Councilmember and VOAWW Vice President of Community Engagement  Steve Woodard. “Positioning it here makes a lot of sense. [Rick Steves and Trinity Lutheran Church] have been looking for a partner for a long time, and the work we do aligns very closely with them.”

VOAWW Project Manager Jim Lorenz said that the project will likely start in July and will be completed by August or September of 2025. “Every construction project has its challenges and you never know [what it’s going to be] until you get there,” Lorenz said. “I think this is going to be a slam dunk, and I hope everything goes smoothly.”

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright (center in pink) with Edmonds Mayor Mike Rosen (left) and State Rep. Cindy Ryu (right) make some dirt fly.

Steves bought the land about 25 years ago, which at the time included a few businesses, including the Creation Station. He rejected his original idea of building duplexes to help address the lack of affordable housing in Lynnwood and decided to instead give the land to Trinity Lutheran Church to do “something really important to the community.” The lot’s buildings and trees were razed in 2019 to make room for the LNC.

City of Edmonds Human Services Program Manager Mindy Woods said she is relieved that there will be human services provided at Lynnwood because she will no longer have to send her clients to Seattle or Everett for services. She also added that she had experienced homelessness 13 years ago in Lynnwood and eight years ago in Edmonds.

“To this day, there’s still no place for people to go to connect to the resources that they need to prevent them from becoming homeless and help them through all the emotional and physical issues somebody goes through when they are facing housing and food insecurities, lack of access to health care and mental health care,” she said. “Finally, there will be something in South Snohomish County, where there hasn’t been anything like this the whole time.”

Volunteers of America of Western Washington President/CEO Brian Smith (center) has some trouble putting on the hard hat during the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center groundbreaking ceremony. With Smith (L-R) are Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, 32nd District State Reps. Cindy Ryu (left) and Lauren Davis, and former 32nd District Rep. Ruth Kagi.

The LNC will also be a place where the Edmonds Neighborhood City Hall will send their clients to get assistance that the Edmonds location can’t provide, Woods added. 

In 2015, the VOAWW began its partnership with Trinity Lutheran Church to make the LNC a reality, taking the lead in  the fundraising efforts. Steves said that he has contributed $4 million to the project – but then the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent government environment study delayed construction and fundraising.

The LNC project needs an additional $3 million to complete the construction, and Steves will match $1 million of that. “We need to get a critical amount of money. You can’t just say, ‘Hey, let’s build a building and we’ll figure out how to pay for it later.’ You got to get the money already in the bank. So we started working, and the more we designed it and time went by, the more prices went up, and the bigger the project became. It went from a $10 million vision to a $25 million vision.”

“We got it all together. We got 90% of the cost of the building figured out, we have $3 million left to raise,” Steves said. “By the time the building is built, it will be totally paid for.”

Donations to the LNC can be made here.

— Story and photos by Nick Ng



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.