Adaptive Re-Use Study: Northern State Hospital

Client: Port of Skagit

Location: Skagit County, Washington

Northern State Hospital is an exceptional property, originally designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. Nearly 30 of the Spanish colonial revivalist style buildings, as well as the 200+ acre landscape itself, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The facility served as a mental hospital from 1912 until 1973. In the last 40 years, only portions of the facility have been used, and many of the buildings are vacant and falling into disrepair. The state is struggling to financially support the facility, and frustration is growing in the local community that such a unique public asset is not living up to its potential.

MFA is working with the Port of Skagit, Skagit County, and the City of Sedro-Woolley to assess the potential for adaptive reuse of the Northern State Hospital property. MFA assisted the port in obtaining an Integrated Planning Grant from the state Department of Ecology to fund an adaptive reuse study. MFA is leading a multidisciplinary team to assess the market potential for redevelopment, the feasibility of renovation of the historic buildings, and risk associated with legacy environmental impacts.

MFA is preparing an implementation strategy to articulate the case for WHY the local governments should acquire an interest in the Northern State Hospital property, HOW a transaction of the property between public agencies could best be structured, and WHAT future use has the highest likelihood of achieving the goals of the state and the local community.

As an outcome of ongoing work with MFA, the Port of Skagit County:

  • Has strong, open lines of communication with the community to help determine the best future use of the property.
  • Has developed partnerships with state and local agencies to move the project forward.
  • Has developed a firm understanding of the market potential of the facility, the viability of adaptive-reuse of the historic buildings, and the physical and environmental constraints of property.
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Over 100 years ago, the State of Washington took a bold step in opening the Northern State Hospital, a state-of-the-art residential mental health facility in Sedro-Woolley. The campus, designed by the world-renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape...

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