City Hall

Operation Nightwatch Moves Into Temporary Location in University District

Seattle City Council approved the temporary shelter at a building set to be demolished later this year.

By Hayat Norimine May 10, 2017

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Operation Nightwatch on Wednesday is moving its night shelter to a temporary location—a city-owned building, on 1117 Northeast Boat Street, slated to be demolished by the end of the year for a park on Portage Bay

Seattle council members on Monday unanimously approved a resolution that allowed the building to be permitted to host Operation Nightwatch temporarily while the nonprofit finds a permanent location for the 75-bed men's shelter. The resolution came to council members Friday afternoon as an emergency order from mayor Ed Murray—but council member Kshama Sawant said he "has not handled this whole process well."

Operation Nightwatch was displaced from its original location, in the Pearl Warren Building in the International District, on April 17 for the city's plans for a low-barrier 24-hour shelter and Navigation Center (which will provide 75 beds and around-the-clock case management and mental health services, according to the city). Since then, Operation Nightwatch has moved three times—first at the Seattle Center for a couple weeks, then to the Seattle Municipal Tower. 

"The city is renovating that building for a different kind of shelter model," said Meg Olberding, external affairs director for the Human Services Department. "We needed to get the construction started for that location to bring a different kind of shelter as well."

Olberding said Operation Nightwatch couldn't stay at the Seattle Center—which was only meant as an event space—or the Municipal Tower—where there was a Starbucks above its location that opened at 4:30am. The organization is still searching for locations and will be at the Bryant Building on Boat Street until August 31, Olberding said.

"We absolutely need for them to have a place to go to and so this cannot be easy for shelter to be uprooted," Sawant said Monday. "I hope the executive will take more care in the future."

The city bought the Boat Street property from the University of Washington as mitigation for the SR 520 project's impacts on Washington Park Arboretum and East Montlake and McCurdy Parks. Portage Bay Park is expected to open in 2018.

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