A private investor approached Churchome with the idea to purchase the Providence Heights campus and use it as housing for veterans. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

A private investor approached Churchome with the idea to purchase the Providence Heights campus and use it as housing for veterans. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Investor would have turned Providence Heights into veterans village

A private investor approached Churchome with a plan to buy and preserve Providence Heights.

New details are emerging about a potential buyer who historic preservationists say could have provided an alternative to the coming demolition of Providence Heights.

According to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the trust had found an investor who was willing to buy the entire campus, which was built for the Sisters of Providence in the 1960s. The investor wanted to use the property, which contains 200 dorm rooms, as a veterans village, while still preserving all of the buildings, including the chapel with its 30-foot stained glass windows.

The campus, which was voted an Issaquah landmark by the Issaquah Landmarks Commission in July, is currently owned by Plateau Campus, LLC, a subsidiary of Churchome in Kirkland (formerly known as The City Church).

According to a settlement agreement reached Oct. 24 to end a lawsuit between Churchome and the city of Issaquah, Churchome is free to follow through with its intent of demolishing the campus. Churchome has stated that it needs to demolish the campus because the land can be resold at a higher value, and the church claims it needs this money to fund its religious mission.

Last year, the Issaquah School District voted to exercise eminent domain over the property, with the goal of putting a new high school and elementary school on the site.

According to Jennifer Mortensen, preservation services coordinator with the Washington Trust, Churchome “claimed they could not enter into any sort of purchase agreement with the investor while the eminent domain process was going on with the school district.”

However, Mortensen said that the lawyers with whom the Washington Trust has been consulting said that “the school district has no legal bearing on the property until they actually assume ownership.”

She added that she believed Churchome was looking for “a way to get out of engaging with investors.”

Churchome did not respond to requests for comment.

Churchome’s alleged rejection is all the more devastating, Mortensen said, because the investor was offering the fair market value for the property if it were developed into housing lots.

“This never happens, that someone waltzes in with tens of millions and says, ‘I will fix all of your problems.’ It was just a total miracle,” Mortensen said. “It blows my mind that people would turn him down.”

The trust would not disclose who the interested investor is or how much he offered for the property.

The campus, Mortensen said, is built in a way that it “could last a long, long time and really thrive” if it were not demolished. She pointed to Europe, which she said “secularized a lot faster” and “c[a]me up with unique solutions” for its older, religious structures so that they did not have to be torn down, but instead could be reused.

Chris Moore, executive director of the Washington Trust, said that the investor and the trust had located another property that they believed the district could be use for new schools, and that the investor had been willing to work to secure the property for the district.

However, according to the trust, the district stated that it had already looked at the site in its property search around the area, and deemed it unsuitable.

“My guess is that Providence Heights fulfilled more criteria, and the district might have seen it as easier,” Moore explained, noting that Providence Heights is all one parcel and has a willing seller.

Still, the trust feels that the landmark designation of Providence Heights alone should have been enough reason for the school district to turn its eyes to another possible site.

“From our side, the fact that this campus is there should have been a reason not to select that site,” Mortensen said. “It’s really disappointing that preservation isn’t valued high enough.”

“The school district decided that tearing down a historic structure is less problematic than other locations … but I don’t believe the school district, using taxpyer dollars, should be involved in tearing down a region’s history,” Moore said.

The Issaquah School District could not be reached for comment before the Reporter’s deadline.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

The campus, which is set to be demolished by its owner, Churchome of Kirkland, contains 200 dorm rooms. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

The campus, which is set to be demolished by its owner, Churchome of Kirkland, contains 200 dorm rooms. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

The chapel includes 14 stained glass windows, each 30 feet high and designed by world-famous French artist Gabriel Loire. Photo courtesy of Michael Sladek

The chapel includes 14 stained glass windows, each 30 feet high and designed by world-famous French artist Gabriel Loire. Photo courtesy of Michael Sladek

More in News

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Most Read