A West Seattle church has found a creative solution to the ever-rising cost of living in the city – adding to those that call the site ‘home.’
Shaun Mattson is lead pastor of West Seattle Church of the Nazarene, located on Juneau Street. His father was the pastor before him, back in the 90s.
“I grew up playing hide and go seek here, running around, loving this place,” Mattson said of the church, which was built in the early 1900s.
But as he grew up, the building began to show its age. Now, it’s seen better days as peeling paint marks the exterior.
Mattson says the deterioration came to a head about five years ago.
“We were dealing with the real issue of lead paint on the outside of our building,” Mattson said. “… The cost just gets astronomical. So, we faced the real issue of, if we wanted to stay here, we had to come up with a solution to deal with that.”
Mattson said the cost of relocating in Seattle was so prohibitive they would likely have shuttered the 60 member church.
It led them to make a difficult choice – selling the churchyard next door for a developer to build six townhomes and a public park.
“The reality was if we didn’t sell some of it, we’d be selling all of it,” said Mattson. “We just wouldn’t be here.”
The proceeds will cover the church’s much-needed renovations. The homes were designed with community input, too.
“Just do some of those things that would help us to continue to open this building to the community,” he said.
For Mattson – the process has been a lesson in faith.
“I remember, I sat over a meal,” said Mattson. “I remember it was teriyaki. I was in Olympia. And I was told a very bleak picture of this building and this area. I remember walking away and thinking, we’re going to have to move and sell everything … so I think the big takeaway is it’s never too bleak. There’s always an open door, and always a path through it.”
Sometimes, he’s learned, you have to build that door yourself. Or, six of them.
“This is where my new neighbors will live,” he said, looking at the townhomes. “It’s going to be good; it’s going to be fun.”
He's got a special investment in the project - he and his family live right next door.
The townhomes could be complete by early next year.