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Originally published Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 8:17 PM

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State to sell old mental hospital, other properties

In an effort to raise money, the state is looking to sell 10 surplus properties across the state — including a former mental hospital in Sedro-Woolley and a juvenile jail in Centralia.

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

State propertiesgoing on the market

• Building in Sunnyside, Yakima County, formerly occupied by the Washington State Patrol.

• North Cascades Gateway Center, a former state mental hospital in Sedro-Woolley now used by various government and nonprofit agencies.

• Tacoma Rhodes Building, three connected buildings in downtown Tacoma that house branch offices of several state agencies.

• Building in Olympia that houses the state Department of Personnel, which is to move to a new building this summer.

• Indian Ridge work-release camp, Arlington. Currently vacant.

• Building in North Bend occupied by the Department of Natural Resources.

• Three buildings known as Market Buildings in Olympia. One is occupied by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife; two are vacant.

• Maple Lane School, a juvenile-detention center, in Centralia.

Pine Lodge, Medical Lake, Spokane County, a former women's correctional center now occupied by DSHS.

Francis Haddon Morgan Center, Bremerton, a facility for those with developmental disabilities.

Source: State General Administration

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OLYMPIA — For sale: a former mental hospital just listed as a historic site, a juvenile jail and a handful of office buildings and other state properties that are vacant or soon will be vacated.

In an effort to raise money, the state is looking to sell 10 surplus properties across Washington.

Only one, a building in Sunnyside, Yakima County, formerly occupied by the Washington State Patrol, is on the market. The goal is to sell them all within the next two years and raise about $86 million.

"We're not going to have a fire sale," Gov. Chris Gregoire said recently.

"They're only going to be sold at market value and there's going to be no discounting," said Jim Erskine, Department of General Administration spokesman.

He said the department is in the process of contracting with a real-estate broker to help with the sales.

The state typically sells one to five properties within a biennium, so putting 10 on the market is relatively unusual.

"I think you put in the context of the budget situation that we're in," said Stan Marshburn, deputy director of the Office of Financial Management. "We're in this historic period, and the Great Recession has put us in a position where we're starting to think differently about how we do business."

The state projects a shortfall reaching as much as $5 billion in the next two-year budget. The Legislature opened its 2011 session Jan. 10 to start work on closing the budget gap.

Surplus property must first be offered for sale to other governments and agencies.

With the ongoing budget crunch, though, "I would ... be surprised if local government — a city or a county — had the money," Erskine said. "But ... you just never know until things are out in the market."

Several of the properties are still being used, and some will be vacated as soon as summer.

One of the properties slated for sale, the Maple Lane School juvenile-detention facility in Centralia, is to close by June 30 and its 77 youths transferred to other state detention centers or community facilities.

The 209-acre property has numerous buildings and is assessed at more than $30 million.

The Department of Social and Health Services is seeking approval from the Legislature to close Bremerton's Frances Haddon Morgan Center, a facility for the developmentally disabled that the state also seeks to sell.

DSHS plans to close the center by June 30 and move its 54 residents to other state centers, smaller community-based facilities or their own homes.

At 225 acres, one of the largest properties on the list is a former state mental hospital in Sedro-Woolley. It's now partly occupied by a few nonprofits and government agencies.

Called Northern State Hospital, the psychiatric hospital was built in 1909 and operated until 1973.

Assessed at $17 million, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this month.

Several core buildings sport Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and the landscape was designed by the Olmsted Brothers, a company that created notable landscapes for cities and colleges at the turn of the 20th century, including some parts of the University of Washington's Seattle campus.

In fact, Sedro-Woolley had envisioned the location would one day become a UW branch campus, said Eron Berg, Sedro-Woolley city supervisor and attorney.

"It's that nice of a campus [that] you can do that," he said.

The Department of General Administration would not place restrictions on the owner's use of the property due to the historic designation.

A new owner would, however, be eligible for a tax credit for any preservation work on the site.

"It's got such a remarkable history," Berg said. "I would certainly hope that whatever happens as part of the sale process that there's consideration given to preserving that past, whatever the future may hold."

Joanna Nolasco: 360-236-8266 or jnolasco@seattletimes.com

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