Sale of Crown Hill Elementary final

As we wrote last week, the sale of Crown Hill Elementary School to the Small Faces Development was scheduled to close on Tuesday.

Catherine Weatbrook emailed us the following on Tuesday evening:

The former Crown Hill Elementary building officially became the property of Small Faces Child Development Center today just after 2pm. The Crown Hill Project team, made up of representatives of 10 different groups and non-profit organizations, worked through a three year process to secure the building, and surrounding 2+ acres for perpetual community and park use. Seattle Parks purchased the majority of the open space, influenced both by the Neighborhood Planning Process ten years ago, as well as by overwhelming community support. The building, built in 1919 and added on to in 1949, will remain home to current tenants, as well as become the new home of Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

10 thoughts to “Sale of Crown Hill Elementary final”

  1. With the seattle school district suffering, this is nothing more than a land grab by private non-profits. I believe that government money could of done a lot more for schools than paying for private child care and pre schools.

    All of the open space has been bought up by the parks department which is great. But why should the school district sell the building at discounted rates to private non-profits that are purchasing it with city and state grants? The city, state, and school district are basically giving away property for free during a time that they can't even keep their own buildings staffed.

  2. This is a total – and I mean TOTAL waste of public assets.

    A) First, you mismanage an education system (over-funded compared to every other Western democracy) and drive families to the suburbs.

    B) You transfer a disused public facility between government agancies, at a valuation well-below market rates, from school district to city.

    C) You fund the “purchase” of this facility — and an even greater discounted valuation from the market — using $1.5 million in taxpayer grants.

    D) You turn it over to non-profits whose compete in an open market against other taxpaying businesses — giving these “special businesses” an unfair advantage.

    Please note that SmallFaces is required to make public filings as a non-profit. Interesting to note that in 2008, only THREE PERCENT of their students were qualified as low income.

    Hardly a charity.

    Some call it a progressive public-private partnership.

    Most of us know it as a slow-motion robbery.

  3. True, education in this country has been over-funded, but that really has no bearing here, this is Seattle. And read the news…cities like Seattle are now growing faster than the suburbs, even with their vast supply of more affordable housing.

    The below-market-rate argument against the sale was made in court, and held to be without merit. But you knew that, because I already mentioned it in another post to related article you posted to.

    What tax-paying businesses in the area does Small Faces compete against exactly? What is the “unfair advantage” that they have over QFC, Dick's, Radio Shack, Subway, Burrito Loco, Crown Hill Vet Hospital, National Dry Cleaners, Goofy's, Value Village, McDonald's, Tully's, Papa John's, Chevron, Safeway, etc.? Oh, I guess the Blockbuster on Holman is going out ouf business because of Small Faces?

    So what if only 3% of students qualify as low income? Small Faces clientele are sets of working parents…a few of whom are wealthy, but most of whom are middle class…who bought homes in the neighborhood and patronize the local businesses over which Small Faces has an alleged “unfair advantage”.

    Small Faces doesn't claim to be a charity. It's a childcare facility that one could reasonably argue has helped to bring value to and grow the surrounding neighborhood. It also paid rent and provided income to the Seattle School District for 25+ years.

  4. I'm sorry: If Small Faces isn't a charity, then why have they hidden from their tax obligation by filing as a 501c(3) non-profit?

    Yes, it paid rent for 25 years. At below market rates.

    Small faces competes with plenty (plenty) of daycares (for-profit and non-profit) in Seattle, and the fact that they get a pass from the City is total B.S.

    And, let's not forget the sweetheart rents that the dance, pilates and yoga studios that sub-let that space, competing with LOCAL studios & trainers for a living. Imagine having to pay at-market rates in Greenwood, Ballard, Phinney Ridge for a studio shopfront, knowing that someone else down the street is paying 70% less for their space — subsidized by your own business taxes.


  5. Small Faces is not a charity, it is a non-profit childcare facility. Non-profits include childcares, private and parochial schools, churches, hospitals, etc. Charities are organizations that collect and give away money…perhaps you've heard of the United Way or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Those are actually charities.

    What pass do they get from the city? They've not only paid rent to the School District for close to 30 years, they've also been the building superintendent and building manager. Small Faces paid for repairs and improvements to the building that typically would be paid for by the landlord, including reparing leaks in the roof and removing lead paint.

    How do you know the rent they've paid was below market rates? Have you actually seen Small Faces books? If you have, you would know that they actually operate in the red most of the time (i.e. so far this year) or barely break even. Therefore, they wouldn't be obligated to pay any income tax since they operate at a loss. Small Faces already pays payroll taxes and will also be repsonsible for property taxes.

    For the third time, the below-market-value argument against the sale was made in court to and determined to be *without merit*.

    True, Small Faces competes against plenty of daycares in Seattle, but your claim was that it had an advantage over all businesses in the area, not just daycares. Is Small Faces' and its tenants' “sweetheart rents” what's causing Blockbuster to close? Is it what caused the Ballard Flag store and Ballard Camera to close? Is it what caused the landlord of Archie McPhee's to raise their rent and drive them out of the neighborhood. Exactly what businesses has Small Faces hindered or prevented from setting up shop in the neighborhood within the last 30 years? Have you been to downtown Ballard lately?

    It's true that Small Faces got public money to purchase the building. Much the way the Mariners and Seahawks got public money to build their new stadiums. Small Faces sought out funds from various sources, both public and private, and held fundraisers. Had Small Faces not gotten grants from the state and city, they were pre-approved to borrow the money.

  6. Look, this is all available from the IRS, so do your homework before you start spewing nonsense.

    Small Faces is technically “not for profit,” but ended the year (2008) with $98,050 in cash, and $109,386 in savings and liquidity investments (temp cash deposits).

    With over $200,ooo in the bank (on non-gov't annualized revenue of about $670,00) — they don't seem to be operating anywhere near break-even. Three to four full months of revenues in the bank isn't exactly poverty-stricken.

    Fact is, Small faces gets government grants ($120,366) — about 15% of operating income — and receives a virtually free building at below market rates — to serve a student population that nobody would qualify as indigent.

    Have I been to downtown Ballard lately? Yes, I work there.

    Has it occurred to you that the primary challenges that small businesses face have nothing to do with condos? They have to do with burdensome taxes, bureaucratic entanglement, and wasteful, needless government largesse in the absence of infrastructure investment. (A piss-poor public education system that drives families to the suburbs doesn't help.)

    The next time you drive-by a boarded-up business in Ballard, consider the enormous amount of squandered money in this city (extorted from our businesses by so-called government “progressives”), and recognize that this continuing Small Faces shakedown is really part of the problem, and not a solution.

  7. I've done my homework. I've seen the past year's worth of Small Faces' books and budget and have had several personal conversations with the people who've kept those books and signed the checks.

    But I guess last years' tax return and Small Faces' bank balance at a point in the past is a better frame of reference for determining an organization's cash flow and financial well-being.

  8. Okay let's not look at “a” (one) point in the past. Let's look at several…

    Fiscal year '07 – $53,092 in cash, $101,177 in savings
    Fiscal year '06 – $105,540 in cash, $85,313 in savings

    So, apparently we have an organization that consistently operates at a profit; as >97% of its students aren't recognized as low-income; getting an essentially free building that the rest of us have to pay for.

    Yet they (miraculously) create an impression in your mind (and apparently shown you some other financial numbers not reported to the government – for three years), that they are holding-on for dear life; serving a community deeply in need of financial aid; and therefore worthy of a “free” $2,000,000 property.

    C'mon buddy. The facts aren't on your side.

    This little community co-op is doing a slow-motion, feel-good, shakedown of the city. Just because its slow, doesn't make it imperceptible.

    One of these days, we're going to have to ask ourselves, “How does Seattle pay for all this crap?” And the answers aren't pretty.

    Companies like Boeing have started to figure this out. And free enterprise is leaving. We're on our way to becoming Detroit.

  9. Hi,

    I attended Crown Hill Elementary School a long time ago for probably Kindergarten or First Grade and now live between Oregon City and Canby, OR on a two-acre farm with husband, cats, orchid plants and horses.

    Was wondering if you had a group of photos of Crown Hill Elementary School in addition to this one posted on the Internet. We lived somewhere in this area and I remember it being above Richmond Beach? but not sure that is correct. We had a large house (Hermann & Margit Bleifus are my parents) with a daylight basement and it was the second house from the corner on our road–I remember a 1903 something N.W. address. I have photos of the house. Next to us were people who lived in a tiny old wood house and they had chickens in their yard, too. I also remember a delivery truck pulled by horses–I was very small but would run out to see it when it drove by making deliveries–that was probably around 1948/1949 as I was born in 1946. I remember the people who lived next to us were the Waring family. My mother (now almost 94–August 31 of this year), Margit Bleifus, stayed good friends with them for many years–they had two daughters. They didn't have doors on some of their rooms, just a piece of material.

    I sure wish I could figure out where our old house would be these days as I bet it has changed a lot. My folks had a very large garden in the backyard with all kinds of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. In the front yard, to the left, was a willow tree and lilac tree where I would catch butterflies. My Mom can't remember that place anymore, or the address. I know we have photos of the house, and it has the 1903 on the side of it. I remember the road went down the hill and I think eventually to Puget Sound, but we had no view of the water from our house.

    Just was up in Seattle for my 45th Ingraham High School Reunion. I visited the house we lived in at 10709 Dayton Ave. N.–owners now recently painted it light blue–I like to take photos of our old places and how they have changed. We moved to Everett in 1964 after I graduated from high school to a five-acre farm there where we could raise Arabian horses. That was near Silver Lake, south of Everett. Drove by that house, too, and took photos–Mom and Dad's house was 11904 – 29th Ave. SE and the house we had built next to it is still owned by the same people we sold it to in 1985. The five acres now has four homes on it and nobody has any horses or livestock around there anymore.

    I remember Olympic Golfcourse and wondered why nobody had heard of it at the Reunion (Linda Landin is a real estate agent) and then see here, on line, that it is now Olympic Manor housing development and the Golfcourse is no more. That Golfcourse was across the road from our house–the people across from us lived on the Golfcourse. I remember one year when it snowed a lot everyone in the neighborhood took their sleds and the hills of the Golfcourse were covered with kids and adults sledding–also people getting knocked down by sleds. Not too accident conscious in those days. It was like a Currier & Ives scene then that has stuck in my brain all these years. Of course, no photos were taken. That was before liability was an issue and the Golfcourse owners had no problem with people enjoying the snow on their course. Ha! These days they manicure them so much they would have a fit if the public was on their Golfcourse. And, of course, of them being sued.

    Those were nice, quiet times in the 40's and 50's. Seattle has gotten HUGE since I was up north several years ago. It is more like L.A. than the Seattle where I was born and raised so many years ago.

    Please let me know if you can find any more photos of Crown Hill Elementary School–what is its' exact address?

    I also remember there was a steep bank to the left (like cut into with huge equipment–bare dirt on the side), as you drove on the road to our place there and then it veered to the right and I think we were down quite aways from this embankment. I wondered what that looked like these days, too. I'm sure they must have squeezed more houses in there, somehow, and that bank is not like it was when we lived there.

    I'm surprised that Crown Hill Elementary School is still intact after all these years and that it was just recently purchased and won't be a school much longer–I'm sure they are putting the wrecking ball to it very soon.

    Look forward to hearing back from you.

    –Judy (Bleifus) Barrick
    12591 S. New Era Road
    Oregon City, OR 97045

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