Tacoma rescue mission HQ faces massive repair bill

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 6:35 PM

The Tacoma Rescue Mission’s downtown headquarters, which holds administrative staff and houses up to 250 homeless, has cracked and sunk at least five inches since opening 12 years ago.

Repairing the damage could cost $2 million more than the original price tag of construction, according to staff.

“The damage is done,” said facilities manager Bob Killmer. “We had a brand new facility.  Now, we have a damaged building.”

Located at 425 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma Rescue Mission’s main complex includes a homeless shelter, food storage, a drug and alcohol treatment center and donation building.

Behind the complex is the new Sound Transit rail line and a sound barrier, which is believed to be the culprit behind the instability of the Mission’s ground.

“The train is there, the tracks are there.  It runs right through here," said Interim Executive Director Brian Sonntag. “They just displaced a whole lot of dirt and the building has been impacted.”

On the outside of the building, staff pointed to cracks in the foundation, walls and sidewalks.  Inside, floors are uneven, walls are bulging out and door frames are becoming misshapen.

“This building right now, should be just like brand new,” Killmer commented.

Preliminary estimates on fixing the property range up to $9 million.  The facility cost around $7 million to build.  Repairs would likely mean moving everyone out of the buildings until work is complete, or perhaps, knocking everything down and starting over.

Staff at Tacoma Rescue Mission first discovered the damage in 2011.  A claim was filed against Sound Transit, which said Tuesday that claim is now with its contractor, MidMountain. 

Sound Transit said there is no merit to claims it is responsible for the damage.  A MidMountain spokesperson said it would comment after the July 4th holiday.

Sonntag stopped short of outright blame against Sound Transit, referencing the ongoing negotiations between the Mission, insurance companies, lawyers and other interested parties.

The main focus for the nonprofit is staying open and providing a place for Tacoma’s homeless to stay.

“To see it coming apart, it is really disheartening,” Killmer said.

The Mission hopes to have an answer on damages and repair costs and steps by mid-July.

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