Will homeless-camp site become donated-food warehouse site? Food Lifeline eyes ‘Nickelsville’ location

A year and a half after the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned to its original site in southeasternmost West Seattle, there’s a new twist: The government-owned land is being eyed by Food Lifeline, which works to get food to people in need and the agencies that serve them. This was first reported last night by our news partners at The Seattle Times; we confirmed it today with Food Lifeline development director Amy Lee Derenthal.

She told WSB via e-mail that the site would be a perfect location for them to expand warehouse and other operations: “Centrally located near major thoroughfares, it will serve as an administrative headquarters, volunteer center and collection, repacking and distribution site for the 300-plus food banks, emergency shelters and meal programs that Food Lifeline serves.” Derenthal says they’ve been looking at the site off and on since 2008, and, “We’ve spent several years looking at land and buildings all over King County. Our board of directors, architects, land developers and staff all agree that the West Marginal Way site is ideally suited for Food Lifeline – from easy access for the dozens of trucks that will move in and out of the site every day to a footprint that allows us to build a comprehensive hunger relief center.”

You probably recall the site was once under consideration as the potential site of a new city jail, a proposal vigorously fought by the Highland Park Action Committee, whose research contended a new jail wasn’t needed – a conclusion eventually also reached by the city and county. Lately, coincidentally, HPAC has been working with the city to see about a new home for “Nickelsville.” So what would happen to the encampment residents if Food Lifeline took over the site and they still hadn’t moved? Derenthal says FL is “committed to working with the city to help craft a solution … It will be 12 to 18 months before we will be ready to build. We’re confident that this will give the Nickelsville residents, homeless advocates and city officials plenty of time to reach a solution.”

What next? Followups to come.

18 Replies to "Will homeless-camp site become donated-food warehouse site? Food Lifeline eyes 'Nickelsville' location"

  • clark5080 October 6, 2012 (5:03 pm)

    Sure seems like there is a lot of wmpty warehouse space around sodo on down to the Georgrtown area what makes Nickelsville space so attractive to them. Must think they can get it cheap

  • Que October 6, 2012 (5:10 pm)

    That really seems like an inconsiderate move on the part of Food Lifeline that hurts the people that they are purported to help.

  • chas redmond October 6, 2012 (5:44 pm)

    Oddly ironic, no?

  • Twobottles October 6, 2012 (5:57 pm)

    Displacing a homeless camp for a food bank warehouse? Attention Mr. Webster, we have a new definition of “Irony”.

  • Twobottles October 6, 2012 (6:33 pm)

    A food bank warehouse displacing a homeless camp? Attention Mr. Webster, we have a new definition of “Irony”.

  • WSDiva October 6, 2012 (6:40 pm)

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! After everything the residents of Nicklesville has been through already. Food Lifeline should be ashamed of themselves.

  • coffee October 6, 2012 (7:25 pm)

    Big booo hissss. Really? There is unused space everywhere. This is yet another cheap shot at Nickelsville residents. I am really shocked at this statement.

  • Denny October 6, 2012 (7:51 pm)

    Wow. Settle down folks. While I am glad that there has been more permanency for the homeless at this location, it will never be a permanent solution to have a group of people setup an encampment on land they do not own.

    If Food Lifeline can also make good use of this property to help thousands of people who go hungry, that might be a good reason to make a move. Let’s not jump too fast to condemn this charity, which probably does need inexpensive land to make a long term solution work.

    If they are 12-18 mos out, that’s another year for the folks at Nickelsville to work with the community on a more permanent solution for their housing challenge.

  • Gina October 6, 2012 (8:37 pm)

    Would be nice for Nickelsville to move to a place with water access and not located on a flood plain and toxic soil.

  • kevin October 6, 2012 (9:09 pm)

    Perhaps the two can co-exist on the same parcel??? Now THERE would be a statement!

    Talk about serving the “community.”

  • Rod Clark October 6, 2012 (9:43 pm)

    Does anyone know the current status of the Sunny Jim site, or other sites formerly considered?
    October, 2010: The Mayor proposes the city-owned Sunny Jim site as a semi-permanent location for the homeless.
    April, 2011: Jim Conlin rejects the Sunny Jim proposal, saying it would require a zoning change, would be opposed by neighboring landowners, was not recommended by City analysts earlier, etc. Environmental remediation at Sunny Jim is estimated to cost the City $300,000. The City Council suggests considering alternate locations, including the seven locations that the City earlier had rated higher than Sunny Jim.
    Nick Licata says that he hopes the City can use some of the $2.4 million from the insurance settlement that the City received in February, 2011 from the Sunny Jim fire to meet the needs of homeless people.
    October 4, 2012: Lake City’s old Fire Station 39, where Nickelsville once was, is on the City’s list of long-term homeless housing locations, after a future renovation. The City had planned to operate a shelter there this winter. But the neighborhood rose up against renovating it, and even against the shelter. The City announces that it will not have a winter shelter there this year.
    October 6, 2012: ???

  • observer October 6, 2012 (10:36 pm)

    Nville, city and homeless advocates have already committed to finding new site, as WSB reported from the last HPAC meeting.

    If anybody has suggestions for sites with potable water which could be used for six month stretches, they should contact Nville or Nick Licata, who is CC person reworking proposed legislation and agreements between all. Nville had already started looking, I believe it was mentioned, at other sites sometime before this FL matter even surfaced.

    Yes, ironic, but a good location for them (FL) given the interchanges. And I say that with the hope that a clean site can be located soon so they can prepare for winter.

    So the hope that all of these Nville folks might find a better situation remains, but…

    what of the eight people currently camped in the greenbelt above Allied Drilling (including a woman pregnant with twins) off of Detroit below the Orchard Street residential area and just behind Pioneer; and

    what of the 25-30 people in another greenbelt encampment north of HP Way? And, finally

    what of the 40-50 people reported to be in the greenbelt above 509 just across from the
    Arrowhead Gardens?

    One of these encampments had a burning fire on Sunday which is a concern. If a fire gets out of control in these tinder dry conditions, how will the fire get reported? Will the lucky few campers who have cell phones have the presence of mind to call for a fire truck?

    I am not usually more concerned about the greenbelt than the people, but everybody should be wary of rustic campfires anywhere right now. One of these non-Nville campers told me that at the eight member camp site, there were three or four fires going every night. Wondering now how many are going at campsites with five times as many people…

  • miws October 6, 2012 (11:00 pm)

    kevin, that was my first thought when I found out about this for the first time at the Pancake Breakfast this morning.



  • JoB October 7, 2012 (1:36 am)

    What i hope is that this lights a fire under the city council to find a better site for Nickelsville.
    Winter is coming and with it the rain.

    you do know that this site is a backup containment pond for overflow water, don’t you? Nickelsville residents know it only too well.. having had to pump the site out more than once last year to keep from floating away.

  • seaBruce October 7, 2012 (11:28 pm)

    Could Food Lifeline hire the people of Nicklesville to make it win-win?

    I have another crazy idea: could the city let small groups of homeless live in city parks, build a communal house to live in and raise fruits, vegetables and livestock for food, then take care of the park and give tours to the public in lieu of rent?

    Do you think Nville or Licata would be interested?

    Thanks for reading!

  • JD October 8, 2012 (6:37 am)

    If this ends up being income for the city then go for it. Our budget needs every penny they can get

  • Nick October 8, 2012 (8:39 am)

    I agree these people are living on toxic fill and deserve a better area maybe as part of the permitting process the city and foodlifline can find a better location

  • Ms. Sparkles October 9, 2012 (1:28 pm)

    “I have another crazy idea: could the city let small groups of homeless live in city parks”

    Oh SeaBruce, don’t you know the city has been “letting” groups of homeless live in several downtown parks for so long that some (like City Hall Park between 3rd & 4th on Jefferson) have become exclusively used by the homeless?

    I’ll I’ve seen raised is the amount of litter – no communal living, no veggie patches, just a lot of people laying around.

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