Spokane Journal of Business

Charity restaurant buys building to grow services

Center Pointe vacates facility, merges with Arc

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Spokane nonprofit Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen has bought a new home, where it will expand its facility and serve more people, says Sherry Harbaugh, president of the organization.

WCFR recently acquired the two-story, 20,100-square-foot Center Pointe building, at 1408 N. Washington, and plans to move there in January following renovations.

Meantime, Center Pointe, a 61-year-old nonprofit that had owned the building, has merged with Arc of Spokane and together they plan to expand services for developmentally and physically disabled adults into Spokane Valley.

WCFR serves meals to women and children in poverty while encouraging good nutrition and healthy eating by promoting whole-food cooking, scratch-made meals, and using fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, Harbaugh says.

Last year, WCFR provided more than 41,000 meals, she says.

The restaurant currently is located in the basement of Christ Our Hope Church, at 1620 N. Monroe, where it has operated for 26 years.

WCFR has seven employees and expects to hire three additional employees in the new location, Harbaugh says. The organization also has a pool of more than 150 active volunteers and expects the need for volunteers to rise as the restaurant expands its services, she says.

The restaurant will have a seating capacity of 200 at its new location, double its current seating capacity, she says.

Planned facility improvements include outfitting a larger high-efficiency kitchen, Harbaugh says. For example, the larger kitchen will enable WCFR to make 48 pans of lasagna at once, which is three times its current capacity, she says.

“Were hoping to be able to serve more women and children more often by adding a day of service or extending hours,” Harbaugh says.

The restaurant currently serves dinner from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays at its Monroe Street location.

With the planned increase in capacity, the organization also hopes to distribute more prepared meals through agency partners, which include Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Hope House emergency shelter for homeless women, and St. Margaret’s Shelter transitional housing, Harbaugh says.

The Center Pointe space is larger than the nonprofit had originally envisioned in its relocation plan, so WCFR likely will lease some space to other nonprofits, she says, adding, “That will help with some of our operating costs.”

The building acquisition was funded through private donations and grants from foundations, she says.

Spokane County Assessor’s records show the selling price as $822,000.

WCFR has launched a capital campaign to raise an additional $1 million to fund the planned kitchen expansion and building renovation, Harbaugh says.

To kick off the campaign, the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, a Spokane charitable foundation, has announced a $50,000 match challenge to encourage additional community contributions.

Two design firms are contributing expertise to the planned project, Harbaugh says. Wolfe Architectural Group PS, of Spokane, is providing preliminary design work during the capital campaign, and Integrus Architecture PS, also of Spokane, will help steer the project through the permitting phase, she says.

No contractor has been selected for the work yet, Harbaugh says.

Earl Engle and Darren Slackman, both of Spokane-based commercial real estate brokerage NAI Black, and David Dowers, of Dowers Commercial Real Estate Group Inc., negotiated the Center Pointe transaction.

The Center Pointe organization is now a part of Arc, with its programs operating under Arc’s name.

Arc had planned to open a community center earlier this week in 3,600 square feet of leased space in the Spokane Valley Partners building, at 10814 E. Broadway.

Greg Falk, Arc’s executive director, says the merger will rescue Center Pointe from financial distress. About $520,000 from the building sale is dedicated to a restricted endowment to fund the Valley programs.

“They’ve got quite a legacy, and we’re trying to honor and continue it as best we can,” Falk says, of Center Pointe.

Jointly, the programs will offer a variety of activities, including arts and crafts, educational activities, and supervised outings in the community. Participants will be able to use either the Arc’s facility at 320 E. Second Avenue, near downtown, or the Valley program through a single membership.

Center Pointe’s three paid staff members have become Arc employees, says Tracy Bridges, who was a program director with Center Pointe and is now the Valley community center lead for Arc.

Five volunteer instructors also have agreed to continue their services at the Valley center, Bridges says, adding “We are continuing to recruit volunteers too.”

Recently, Center Pointe had served an average of 80 people a month at its center north of downtown, Bridges says, and Arc hopes to serve a larger number of people in the Valley, where neither agency has had a permanent presence.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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