For years, the 34,500-square-foot building at 2213 Eighth Avenue was a Travelodge hotel. After that, Cornish College of the Arts used it as a dormitory. Amazon bought the property in 2014 as part of a big expansion land grab. While they're busy building their spheres and extending their campus, Amazon has decided to put the derelict building to use, partnering with nonprofit Mary’s Place to turn it into a temporary refuge for homeless families.
Amazon doesn't have plans to build on the lot for another year so in the meantime Mary's Place will start moving families in next Monday for the time being. The charity will cover utilities but otherwise the building is offered rent-free. It's expected to host 60 to 70 families. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has donated 47 rooms’ worth of furniture to the building as well.
Seattle mayor Ed Murray, who recently declared a state of emergency in the city over homelessness, applauded the move by the tech giant to make more of a tangible impact in the community.
"It’s an example of collaboration," Murray said in an interview. "This problem cannot be solved by government by itself. It cannot be solved by nonprofits like Mary’s Place by themselves.
"The fact that Amazon has chosen to be a partner in probably the most difficult crisis the city is facing right now says a lot about their willingness to help us build community and be incredibly caring business partners."
Once constuction does begin, the hope is to move families to another former motel that Amazon has purchased.
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